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Cat in the Stax: Sometimes we all need a little space…

By Ethan Shea

"NASA Moon Rocket"

(Photo courtesy of CNN & AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

On Monday, Aug. 29, NASA was scheduled to launch the unmanned spacecraft Artemis I. The goal of this Artemis mission is essentially to rehearse and ensure the safety of future missions, including Artemis II and III, the latter of which is scheduled for 2025 and intends to land the first woman on the moon.

"Artemis I Mission Patch"

Artemis I Mission Patch (Photo Courtesy of NASA)

At liftoff, Artemis I will weigh 5.75 million pounds and generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch itself 500 feet directly upward in only seven seconds. After traveling 1.3 million miles, out past the Moon and back to Earth, Artemis I will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at higher speeds than ever before, 24,500 miles per hour (Mach 32), and eventually splash down safely.

Unfortunately, Monday’s launch was scrubbed due to engine issues and unfavorable weather, but to make up for the lack of anticipated celestial expeditions, this week’s “Cat in the Stax” will point to some stellar resources here at Falvey because sometimes we all need a little space.

For one, Falvey has a robust collection of films, available on DVD and online, related to space exploration. You may want to watch something fictional, such as Gravity or 2001: A Space Odyssey, both available on DVD at Falvey’s West Stacks, or you may prefer something like Apollo 13, a documentary about the “successfully failed” Apollo 13 mission, which did not accomplish its goal but managed to bring its crew back to Earth unharmed despite all odds.

"The Telescopic Tourist's Guide to the Moon"Of course, there are also plenty of books on space available too. If you have access to a telescope, you should check out The Telescopic Tourist’s Guide to the Moon. It’s just like any other tour guide, except it’s designed for another celestial body. This book will guide stargazers through famous locations on the moon, such as where the Apollo missions landed and where well-known movie scenes take place.

If you lean more in the direction of science-fiction, space is a common setting for such literature. One such novel, Duneis currently available in Falvey’s stacks, and it was also recently adapted into a film for the second time. Although this new movie has not yet arrived at Falvey, the original film, released in 1986, is available as a DVD in the stacks.

As of now, there is still a chance that Artemis I will launch on Friday, Sept. 2, but it is not guaranteed. I guess this blog will have to satisfy our astronomical cravings for now.

If you’d like to learn more about the specifics of Artemis I and the planned missions of the Artemis Program, check out NASA’s website here.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Crying in the Stax

By Ethan Shea

"tear falling from eye"

In this New York Times article by Wesley Morris, the many implications of crying, from tears shed in courtrooms to movie theaters, are thoroughly analyzed. I figured this text would give me a solid opportunity to point out some books and movies at Falvey that, for better or worse, could encourage everyone to shed a few tears. Depending on how your Valentine’s Day went, that may or may not be easy to do.

The scope of the aforementioned article is far too broad to sum up in a sentence or two, but a couple particular points stuck with me. For one, the piece recognizes that crying is a uniquely human experience. Tears are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, which makes crying all the more necessary. A good cry can help us learn things about ourselves that we never could have known otherwise because, in spite of the humanity of crying, it “arouses the animal in us” (Morris).

If you feel inclined to take part in the humanizing experience of shedding tears, here are a few books and movies you can find at Falvey that encourage a bit of crying.

"Flowers for Algernon Book Cover"Flowers for Algernon

This novel by Daniel Keyes is widely known as one of the most tear-inducing stories of any library’s stacks. The story follows a man who undergoes a science experiment with the goal of increasing his intelligence, but he soon realizes that the operation is not as glorious as he had imagined. The experiment had recently been performed on a lab mouse named Algernon, which the protagonist becomes attached to. In spite of the heavy topics the book covers, it is sure to be a powerful read that can definitely make you cry.

 

"Call Me By Your Name Book Cover"Call Me By Your Name

Both the book and the cinematic adaptation of this story by André Aciman are housed here at Falvey. The movie is even available to stream on our website whenever you please. This love story taking place by the beach in Italy has become incredibly popular over the past few years, and especially since Timothée Chalamet made waves with the big screen version of the book, almost everyone knows about this story and its ability to bring its viewers to tears.

 

 

"Moonlight Film Cover"Moonlight

This Academy Award winning film is extremely heavy, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at once. Moonlight actually beat my favorite film, La La Land, for Best Picture (in a very memorable announcement blunder), but I can’t even be mad about it. A story like Moonlight deserves all the praise it has received, and anyone with a heart would be moved by it. Not to mention that it is one of the most stunningly shot movies I’ve ever seen with cinematography that is simply unmatched.

 

 

"Toy Story 3 Film Cover"Toy Story 3

On a lighter note, don’t ask me why this movie absolutely guts me, but it just does. Having grown up watching the Toy Story films and aging with Andy, seeing him mature and leave for college around the same time I did was more than I could handle. The ending is not even terribly sad, but that almost makes it harder to stomach. You just have to accept the changes maturity brings and continue living. This film doesn’t say growing up is bad, but realizing you’ll never be a kid again is painful. Toy Story 3 forced me to accept it.

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 


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Cat in the Stax: Hayao Miyazaki’s (Un)retirement

By Ethan Shea

"No-Face"

For this week’s “Cat in the Stax” I want to take a brief break from the holiday season and discuss some other big news, Hayao Miyazaki’s (un)retirement.

It was recently announced that Hayao Miyazaki, internationally acclaimed film animator and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, will be coming out of retirement to create one last film. This is not the first time Miyazaki has gone back to work. In fact, he mentioned retiring from filmmaking as long ago as 1997 but did not formally “retire” until 2013.  In 2017, Miyazaki ended his retirement to create one last film, and now in 2021, he’s doing it again.

If you’re expecting to see Miyazaki’s new film sometime soon, you’re out of luck. Studio Ghibli animates its films with very little help from computer-generated imagery (CGI), so 12 minutes of film usually takes about a year to make.  Luckily, as of 2021, this new film, How Do You Live?, has already been in the works for a few years, so it has a tentative  release date of 2023.

The New York Times recently scored an interview with Miyazaki, his first interview with an English-language outlet since 2014, so if you’d like to read more about the man himself, I recommend checking it out here. As a Villanova student, staff, or faculty member, you have free access to the New York Times, so make use of it!

"Book Cover of 'Miyazaki World: A Life in Art' by Susan Napier"

“Miyazaki World: A Life in Art” by Susan Napier

I have to admit that I haven’t seen every Studio Ghibli film, but I hope to watch all of them during the upcoming winter break. The ongoing Studio Ghibli Fest at AMC theaters, which screens past Ghibli films on a monthly basis, has helped me watch some of these films. AMC will be screening My Neighbor Totoro this month, so if you haven’t already seen it, or even if you have, I’d recommend seeing it in theaters soon!

My personal favorite Miyazaki film is Laputa: Castle in the Sky.  This was one of Studio Ghibli’s very first productions, and I was lucky enough to experience it for the first time in theaters recently. I’ll stop myself from spoiling any of the plot, but everything about this film, from the score (which I love to listen to while studying) to the emphasis on the essentiality of nature through intimate visuals of greenery, is beautiful.

You can watch some Studio Ghibli films with the help of Falvey Library. Grave of the Fireflies is currently on the shelves of our stacks, and several other films, such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo, are available through interlibrary loan.

We even have several texts on the life and career of Miyazaki living in our stacks. For example, you could check out Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art or Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli to learn more about the famous storyteller.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Defining Meta

By Ethan Shea

"Inception spinning top"

 

On Thursday, Oct. 28, Mark Zuckerberg made a big announcement. As part of a massive rebranding project, his multibillion dollar company, Facebook, has replaced its ubiquitous name with a new corporate title, Meta. As significant as this may seem, to be honest, I’m not very concerned about the odd names billionaires like Zuckerberg come up with (I’m looking at you too Mr. Musk).

Rather, for this week’s “Cat in the Stax,” I’m going to talk about something just as meta but, in my humble opinion, much more interesting. Today I want to define what it means to be meta by exploring some markedly meta books and movies.

With regard to storytelling, in most cases, audiences are meant to be immersed in the book, movie, or song they’re enjoying. But when something is meta, audiences become aware of the fact that they’re watching or listening to something, and the world of the page or screen reveals itself to be separate from the audience’s world. In summation, art that’s meta is self-referential and examines its own meaning as a work of art.

"The Lost Children Archive"Lost Children Archive

I’m actually in the middle of reading this novel by Valeria Luiselli right now, and I can’t help but notice the metafiction present throughout the text. The story describes the life of a family traveling from New York City to Arizona to conduct research in the midst of injustices continuously being carried out against child refugees at the southern border of the United States. Throughout the journey, each family member receives a box, their own personal archive, and fills it with items gathered during the voyage or deemed important beforehand.

This is where things get meta. The book itself is separated not only into chapters but boxes. Instead of turning to chapter two as one may do in a more traditional text, readers of Lost Children Archive will encounter “Box 2.” This formative archival work leads readers to contemplate how they and the book itself construct their own archives as well as the implications of going through someone else’s belongings. Although the contents of the archives can technically be watered down to a list of items, the parallels between chapters and boxes prove there’s a lot more to be written about them than a few words.

Inception"Inception Movie Poster"

Christopher Nolan’s film Inception (2010) is a remarkably meta movie. The very premise of its story alludes to its meta status, as much of the film’s plot subtly calls attention to the fact that it’s taking place within a film. Throughout the movie, the goal of the protagonists is to complete “inception,” which is the act of planting an idea into someone’s mind through complex layers of dreams. In order to do this, a group of dream-building-experts enter the mind of their target and get to work.

The construction of the dream, the setting, actors, and events, must all be perfect so the victim doesn’t realize they’re in a dream, just as movies must be crafted so audiences forget what they’re watching isn’t real. This is why Inception is one of the most meta films in recent memory.

"We Are in a Book!"Elephant & Piggie: We Are in a Book!

For something to be meta, it doesn’t have to be as complex as Inception. In fact, the children’s story Elephant & Piggie: We Are In A Book is extremely meta because the story’s characters, Elephant and Piggie, become conscious of their existence within a book. At first Elephant doesn’t understand how they’re being “read,” but before long, the pair becomes excited about life between the pages. To entertain themselves, Elephant and Piggie make the reader say a funny word… “banana.” Before the inevitable ending of the book, Elephant starts to worry about how their story will conclude, so in a last-ditch effort to extend the time they’re being read, Piggy asks the reader to read the book again.

This children’s story is meta because its entire premise is made possible by calling attention to its form. Here, in a fun and simple way, young readers can begin to understand what it means to be meta and how stories continue to live in the present through the act of reading.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

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Cat in the Stax: Fall Films for the Faint of Heart

By Ethan Shea

""

It’s finally October! That means it’s time for haunted hayrides, horror movies, and pumpkin spice lattes (now available at Holy Grounds Falvey). Many people thrive in spooky environments, but if you’re anything like myself, you try to keep the ghosts and ghouls at arm’s length.

I may need some extra convincing to partake in frightening festivities, but I know I’m not the only one who prefers when houses aren’t haunted. That’s why I’ve curated a short list of fall films for the faint of heart. Just because they’re not scary doesn’t mean they’re not in season!

""Fantastic Mr. Fox

I could have added a few other Wes Anderson films to this list, but I chose Fantastic Mr. Fox simply because it’s my favorite. It’s also especially fitting because fall imagery is found everywhere in this movie. From the foliage of the tree Mr. Fox calls home to Mr. Bean’s alcoholic apple cider, Fantastic Mr. Fox is steeped in autumn.

Despite the fact that, aside from food references, there are few direct links to fall activities, Wes Anderson is not subtle with references to this nostalgic season. For example, the film is almost entirely orange. Just like Mr. Fox’s fur, the cinematography of this stop motion animated film is the color of autumn leaves.

Even the sentimental score features a twangy, acoustic sound that makes one feel like they are striding through a grass field with their feet covered in dew on a cool October morning.

The Princess Bride""

The Princess Bride is one of the most quotable films I’ve ever watched, and it’s hilarious too. This is a movie choice that will never disappoint because it has something for everyone.

As the movie’s group of lovable characters travel over cliffs and through the woods, one can’t help but feel in the mood for fall. The colorful leaves covering the forest floor and the story’s romance are perfectly fit for the season.

I’m not sure if it’s the visuals or the comfort of having a bedtime story read to you, but something about watching The Princess Bride on a calm autumn evening just feels right.

Coco""

This movie actually has something to do with the season directly. Because it’s centered around Día de los Muertos, this Pixar film is literally made for the fall season.

As Miguel attempts to return to the Land of the Living after he is cursed for stealing from the dead, he makes unlikely friends and learns about the importance of memory. The orange marigold petals that are essential to the film’s imagery are reminiscent of autumn and traditional of Día de los Muertos.

Coco is actually one of the highest-grossing films with an all Latin American principle cast, and given that it is Hispanic Heritage Month until Oct. 15, the time to watch watch this film is now!

The Goonies""

This classic story of a few kids with a treasure map and a taste for adventure is not just about pirates. The cool atmosphere of the group’s quaint Oregon setting is full of autumnal nostalgia. According to a newspaper found in the film, the events of The Goonies take place from Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, which is partially why this movie feels like sweater weather.

Although there are some suspenseful scenes, this movie is definitely not one I’d call scary. Even though I used to cringe at that one scene with the blender when I was younger (don’t worry, it’s not bad), there is not a whole lot to be afraid of. If you somehow haven’t watched this movie before, make sure you put it at the top of your list!

Fantastic Mr. FoxThe Princess Bride, and Coco are all available for viewing with subscriptions to Disney+. The Goonies is available on Hulu.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Attention Villanova Students: Join us for a Netflix Film Launch with Celebrity Guests!

 

Picture of popcorn

You are invited to a night you will not forget! To celebrate the launch of his prank comedy film, Bad Trip, join Eric Andre and friends for a one-night-only event.

Through this event, Villanova students will be invited to an exclusive experience filled with behind-the-scenes content, chats with the stars, and special surprises. While the film may not suit every taste, this is a valuable opportunity for aspiring filmmakers, media executives, writers, and many others to gain insights into the process of content production and distribution through one of the premiere streaming platforms. Along the lines of the Borat franchise, the hidden camera comedy also creates a space for interesting social commentary.

The ACS-approved launch event will take place on Thursday, March 25, beginning at 7:10 p.m., via Zoom.

Click HERE to RSVP with your college email address as this event is exclusively for Villanova students. All attendees will need to register with their college email address and login at least 15 minutes before the start of the event to ensure entry.

Please note that this film is a little blue and carries an R-rating.

From the producer of Jackass and Bad Grandpa, Bad Trip is a hidden camera comedy that follows two best friends who go on a cross-country road trip full of hilarious, inventive pranks, pulling its real-life audience into the mayhem. The film will be led by Eric Andre (The Eric Andre Show, The Lion King), Lil Rel Howery (Uncle Drew, Get Out), and Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School). Bad Trip is directed by Kitao Sakurai (The Eric Andre Show) from the minds of Dan Curry, Kitao Sakurai, and Eric Andre. The movie is produced by Jeff Tremaine, Dave Bernad, and Ruben Fleischer.

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Communication and Falvey Memorial Library. Space is limited so be sure to respond soon to reserve a spot!


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Attention Film Enthusiasts: Falvey has Temporary Access to Bloomsbury Screen Studies

cinema

Photo by Nathan Engel, Pexels.

By Regina Duffy

Are you a film aficionado or aspiring to be one? If so, check out Bloomsbury Screen Studies. This database contains a generous arsenal of film-related materials, including screenplays, scholarly film criticism, reference works, eBooks, and so much more.

With Bloomsbury Screen Studies, users can search by “People,” “Themes,” “Genre, Movements and Styles,” as well as “Films” to examine key elements in the study of film. There is also an interactive timeline which allows you to explore the extensive history of film from the 19th century to the current day. You could literally spend hours looking at old screenplays, reading actor bios, or reviewing scholarly criticism from different film genres and eras.

Bloomsbury Film Studies

You can access Bloomsbury Screen Studies by visiting Falvey’s Temporarily Available Online Resources (Spring 2020) webpage. It is listed under “Multiformat Collections,” along with some other great new temporary offerings.

This database will be of particular interest faculty and students who are involved in Media Studies in Villanova’s Department of Communication. However, anyone who has interest in the study of film would undoubtedly find this to be an invaluable resource.

Bloomsbury Screen Studies is presented by Bloomsbury, Faber & Faber, and the British Film Institute. It is a newly acquired resource that is available for temporary use by Villanova faculty, staff, and students until May 31, 2020. Falvey Library gained temporary access to this database due to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to meet the growing needs of faculty and students who are now working remotely. It is just one of the thousands of new resources that Falvey has recently added.

If you need help using this or any of the library’s databases, please be sure to connect with one of the Library’s amazing subject librarian experts via our Live Chat. You can also email a librarian at ref@villanova.edu.

For a list of the most up-to-date resources and services provided by Falvey, please see the Falvey Memorial Library COVID-19 Updates and Resources webpage.

Please remember that The Virtual Library is open and ready for you!

 


headshot picture of regina duffy

Regina Duffy is a Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 

 


 


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Irish Film features Digital Library Images

The 2008 film, Cromwell in Ireland, also marketed as Cromwell: God’s Executioner, features numerous images, plates and maps from Villanova University’s Digital Library. In 2007, writers and researchers working on the script of the film were looking for archival images depicting individuals, locations, and events pertinent to the story of Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in the 4 year period from 1649 and 1653, an event in which an estimated 500,000 people, one quarter of the population of Ireland, died from war, disease and starvation making this the greatest catastrophe ever to befall the country.

filmcge1.jpg

After browsing through the Joseph McGarrity Collection of the Digital Library they noted several specific images that were of interest for their educational enterprise. The writers, after contacting the Digital Library staff for permission to use these images, asked for assistance in locating other images which were proving difficult to find. An extensive search of the print Joseph McGarrity Collection and the Early European Rare Book Collection found a considerable number of rare sources with plates and maps that fit the needs of the film makers. These materials were soon digitized and added to the Digital Library for use by the international film makers and for scholars studying these tragic events.

The film produced by Irish national broadcaster RTE and the UK’s History Channel aired on Irish television in September 2008 and is scheduled to be broadcast on the UK History Channel in November of this year. The film makers hope that the series will be broadcast on a North American channel such as Smithsonian Networks or the History Channel in 2009. Directed by double IFTA Award-winning director Maurice Sweeney, the cast includes a host of international stars and features commentaries by leading historians of this period of Irish history including: Micheál Ó Siochrú, John Morrill, Professor of History at University of Cambridge, Jane Ohlmeyer, Professor of History at Trinity College, Dublin, Pádraig Lenihan, Lecturer in History at University of Limerick, Nicholas Canny, Professor of History at NUI Galway, and Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at University of Bristol.

Cromwell in Ireland is presented and largely authored by Dr. Micheál Ó Siochrú, a vibrant young Irish historian who has just published a full-length study of Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland: God’s Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland. Throughout the film, he and the other historians guide the viewer through the historical narrative and action, offering challenging new insights into the war and its legacy.

The historical figures that feature most prominently in the film are: Oliver Cromwell, England’s greatest general and a Puritan deeply inimical towards the Irish Catholic Church; Henry Ireton, his second-in-command and successor; Sir Charles Coote, his uncompromising lieutenant in Ulster; Owen Roe O’Neill, Gaelic Ireland’s greatest leader; his kinsman Hugh Dubh O’Neill; and the Marquis of Ormond, the ineffectual leader of the doomed Royalist coalition.

The film consists of 2 52 minute episodes, each episode including credits featuring the contributions of Villanova University’s Digital Library.


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Last Modified: September 26, 2008