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"When you ARISIA in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to love."

Updated: Jan 8, 2019


The above modified quote (ARISIA playfully inserted for "arise") has been attributed, falsely, to Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE), Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. The latter kinda gives it away. Stoicism is not overflowing with such Pollyanna-isms. The quote from Marcus' Meditations 5:1 on which this misphrasing was likely based is:


"Early in the morning, when you find it so hard to rouse yourself from your sleep, have these thoughts ready at hand: ’I am rising to do the work of a human being. Why, then, am I so irritable if I am going out to do what I was born to do and what I was brought into this world for?"

Ah, now that's Marcus Aurelius.


Still, I like both these sayings and should have them engraved (in tiny letters) one on each side of a coin that I could pull from my pocket and flip to foretell my mood for the day.


Much like the father (wonderfully played by Michael Constantine) in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I'd like to say (self-spoofingly), "You know, the root of (Marcus' quote) is from the (Hebrew Talmud)..." but, in this case, the correlative rabbinic wisdom best coalesced over a thousand years later in the words of Rabbi Bunim of P'shiskha:


"Everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper. On one should be written: I am but dust and ashes, and on the other: The world was created for me. From time to time we must reach into one pocket, or the other. The secret of living comes from knowing when to reach into each."

Such does my mind wander off on paths of its own devising when I set my thoughts to providing this post with a clever snappy title. Anyway, here are my assigned panels for ARISIA 2019 to be held January 18th and 19th at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. If you'll be attending, please drop by to kibbitz or just to say "hi." Mention you read this blog post and get a gift book. :)


FRIDAY JANUARY 18th

530 PM NIGHTSTAND READINGS (Holmes Rm)

- "Come find the next title to set on your nightstand for your bedtime reading routine, with authors reading to you from their own original works of poetry, folklore, and fantasy."

- author Rachel Kenley and I read selections from our works.

- while I'm tempted to read from new-to-you work, I will instead likely read the opening of my faux-folkloric tale Laila Tov since it is a favorite of those who've read it and attendees may read the story to its conclusion on-line for free, if so inclined.

** Update JAN 8th ** With the withdrawal of one of our fellow readers, Rachel and I pick up extra minutes. This may alter my reading selection to a short I could complete for our guests.


830 PM SHAPING A GENRE: SFF MAGAZINES AND NARRATIVE (Tremont Rm)

- "Short story magazines have been a part of the SFF industry since the very beginning. Editors of such magazines have always been on the cutting edge of the evolution of the genre, subtly changing the shape of the literary landscape, whether for good or ill, through the stories they choose to publish. What responsibilities do the editors of today feel in this regard as caretakers?"

- with Strange Horizons poetry editor A. J. Odasso, special issue Lightspeed art director Elizabeth Leggett, twice-Dragon Award Finalist author and Apex submissions reader Amy J. Murphy, student educator Heather Urbanski, and yours truly as an author and a consulting editor for the online ezine Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores and friend author-editor-maven Alex Shvartsman's new Future SF Digest.

- With such an eclectic group of panelists, this should be a fun discussion, and I look forward to the audience's thoughts and insights as well.


SATURDAY JANUARY 19th

1000 AM FANTASTICAL COMEDY BEYOND ADAMS AND PRATCHETT (Franklin Rm)

- "Authors like Tom Holt, John Scalzi, and Connie Willis are authors who are currently writing humorous genre works. What under-appreciated humorous genre books are floating around out there? And what is the future of comedy in genre?"

- with Nathan Comstock, James Hailer, Stephen R. Wilk, Agatha award-winning author Sarah Smith, and some old retired doc whose published tales (when successful) cause heartaches rather than tickled funny bones (but he loves humor and is awed by authors who can write it well).


100 PM HARLAN ELLISON: IN MEMORIAM (Franklin Rm)

- "Harlan Ellison was one of the great short story writers of all time, and one of the field's larger-than-life figures. He was also someone whose bad behavior often undercut his achievements and even the good deeds he attempted to do. We'll discuss both his literary legacy and his personal one. Note that this panel will likely discuss topics that are uncomfortable for some people."

- with Campbell award-winner and Hugo and Nebula award nominated author Michael A. Burstein, ARISIA 2019 Fan Guest of Honor Jon Trimble who with his better have Bjo spearheaded the Save Star Trek campaign that provided us a 3rd season of The Original Series and similarly rallied support for naming the first NASA space shuttle "Enterprise," talented media artist Lisa Hertel, Rhysling award-winning poet and author Sonya Taafe, . . . and me.

- I'm humbled to be included in such august company in . . . um, January. I know both Michael and Sonya from their marvelous stories in People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy [Prime, 2010]. It will be a pleasure to sit beside them.

- Harlan made a large impression upon me from afar and, later, a deep-knuckled indentation (metaphorically) upon my country boy kepele (Yiddish for head) -- i.e. exposing and excising my naiveté during our personal conversation. And yet, paradoxically, he simultaneously (and unexpectedly to me, based on all the Harlan hearsay) possessed a resigned patience with a shtickle of compassion; like a weary rabbi with the echad tam, the simple son of the Passover fable. I learned from Harlan and, though he is gone and (truly) of blessed memory, I still do. I will expand on this at the panel, if given the opportunity among so many who knew him better than me. Anyway, this falls under "this panel will likely discuss topics that are uncomfortable for some people" - i.e me. Come and see me shvitz, be humbled, and yet still kvell about this 5' 2½" giant in science fiction.



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