Barkley: DisCon III, the Fifth Day

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III – Day Five

By Chris M. Barkley:


Sunday, the very last day of Discon III, was a VERY busy day.

Juli and I had finished packing the night before.

I was also up early (again) because I had a 10am panel; “Inspired Or Copied, The Ethics of Art”, featuring artists agent Jane Frank, attorney at law Harold Feld, and authors Keith DeCandido, J.T. Greathouse and myself. As I looked in the program book, I did not see anyone listed as a moderator. Which made me wonder why I was on this panel to begin with. Oh well, I thought…  

But first, there were two other issues on my plate that morning. As I got dressed, Juli informed me that I maybe in hot water with our friend, author Jonathan Brazee. Apparently, I misstated his rank in the United States Marine Corps as “Lt. Colonel” instead of his actual rank upon retirement as full Colonel. 

If you think the distinction is rather minor, think again. Consider this; my brain fart is the equivalent of mistaking the rock band Nickelback for The Beatles. I have several friends and relatives who have served in the armed services and nothing upsets them more than civilians like myself getting aspects of their lives dead wrong. So, I got dressed, dreading the prospect of running into the Colonel.

The other thing that caught my attention was a Facebook post by Adam-Troy Castro. In it, Mr. Castro totally eviscerates Jon Del Arroz, a internet provocateur (troll) mostly known for his incredibly egotistical boasts of writing talent and notorious passive-aggressive attacks on progressive writers, women, the LGBTQ community and practically anyone else who casts doubts his on his “greatness”.

Needless to say, I picked up Mr. Castro’s post and spread it all over Facebook (including the DisCon III page) and on my Twitter page with the caption (gleefully borrowed from Game of Thrones): “He who SHOUTS that he is a King, is no king.”  

THAT, dear readers, felt very, VERY satisfying.

On my way to my panel, I decided to grab a quick bite of something in the DisCon III Green Room (located just off to the side of the hotel’s main restaurant) to tide me over until I could eat a fuller breakfast. And guess who was there, having coffee with a friend —

As I started to apologize profusely, he laughed and said that he actually got a kick out of being one of the “luminaries” spotted at the bottom of the first column of this series of DisCon III reports. Totally relieved that I would not be set upon by angry veterans or service members of the armed forces, I grabbed a cup of tea and made my way to my panel. (Subsequently, Col. Brazee contacted me via text and said that no further public apology was necessary but I must disagree. When a mistake of that magnitude is made by a reporter, a correction is not only called for, it’s mandatory as far as I’m concerned.)

As I passed through the lobby, I stopped by the Information Desk for the last newsletter and the traditional hoax parody as well. I also saw that there were several dozen silver colored, Flash Gordon shaped foam rockets on the next table over. Curious, I went over and examined one and saw the red and black label, which is how I found out that the defense contractor Raytheon was an official sponsor of DisCon III. (WHAT? I should have been paying more attention during the con! In my defense, I was unsupervised…)

Thinking that these would make a nice trinket for my four grandchildren, I grabbed several of them. As I passed by Ellen Datlow, who was seated in the East Promenade eating from the grab and go buffet, I gifted her with one as well. She was very appreciative since this rocket was MUCH lighter than the Short Form Editing Hugo Award she had won yesterday evening.

[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]

I arrived in the Calvert Room a few minutes before 10:00 a.m. It was sparsely attended with about fifteen people present. I was a little disconcerted because this was the same room I had had my first panel (“What Makes A Classic A Classic”) in on Wednesday afternoon. Just as it was then, there was only a line of five chairs facing the audience with no table.

As I set up my phone to record the session, I inquired who among the assembled panelists was the moderator. All of the other panelists looked at each other in confusion; no one claimed to be the moderator.

Then, an audience member chimed in and said that the morning newsletter with the updated programming changes stated that I was Moderator.  Oh well, I thought, here we go. 

Using secret techniques I had honed and practiced over the years under the tutelage of Lamont Cranston and on numerous occasions as a radio talk show host, a phone bank customer service representative  and a bookseller, I led the panelists on an informative (and only slightly hilarious) hour of talk about the ins and outs of copyright and trademark law, examples of ethical and unethical behavior in and out of fandom and the advantages and pitfalls of being a writer, musician or an artist in the 21st century. 

I was particularly indebted to Mr. Feld, who explained, in some detail, the difference between having a copyright and when a trademark can be legally be invoked.

(Author’s Note: An audio version of this panel will be posted on in the next few days.)

After the panel and a quick breakfast, Juli and I took another pass at packing and made sure we were not leaving anything behind in our hotel room.

At 12:40 we made our way to the Regency Ballroom for Closing Ceremonies.

The audience was rather sparse but considering that many people with long flights were either still checking out or gone already, it was quite understandable.

Juli and I sat in the same Press area seats we sat in during the Hugos. Sandy Levy came by with a 2006 copy (L.A.con IV) of Robert’s Rules of Order in hand, looking (of course) for Ben Yalow. Juli and I insisted she sit in the aisle seat while I kept an eye out for Mr. Yalow.

Flier Dave Hook took up a seat next to Juli and they had a nice chat before the festivities started. Former Algol and Science Fiction Chronicle editor Andrew Porter took up residence behind my seat and flung out a few witty remarks for me (which I subsequently forgot to write down). 

At one point, I wandered through the crowd to see if Mr. Yalow had even arrived yet and I was waylaid by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty who gave me a heads up that something related to baseball was going to happen during Closing Ceremonies. I wondered what he meant by that.

When I returned to my seat, Mr. Yalow was walking by looking for a seat. Sandy presented him with the book, which he happily signed.

A little after 1:00 p.m.,DisCon III Chair Mary Robinette Kowal strode onto the stage to deliver her closing remarks. She declared that despite all of the difficulties facing her and the staff and volunteers, DisCon III was a success. She was joined onstage by many of the DisCon III staff who, along with the volunteers present in the hall, received an ovation from those assembled, and we all complied, clapping vociferously for nearly a full minute.

Communications Division Head Adam Beaton came to the stage and presented Ms. Kowal with a parting gift from the DisCon III staff. It was a large, framed photograph of all of their faces, images of themselves taken from various Zoom meetings that were held during the past year.  Clearly moved to tears, Ms. Kowal thanked them all and received another ovation from the audience.

Next, Helen Montgomery, the Chair of next year’s Worldcon, Chicon 8, joined Ms. Kowal on stage. 

Ms. Montgomery declared that the theme of Chicon 8 will be “Take To The Stars” and promised that it would be a unique and inclusive experience for fans and welcomed everyone to attend, from September 1-5, 2022.

We were also treated to a series of interpretive fantasy dances from Chicago’s Raks Geek Dance Studio; from dancers Dawn Xiana Moon, Gaea Lady, Michi Trota, and Lee Na-Moo.

When the dances had ended, it was time for Ms. Kowal to hand over the Chair’s Gavel (the small AND the large one) to Ms. Montgomery.

Just as the Gavel was officially passed, Dave McCarty started shouting from the aisle, THROWING OUT BALLPARK popcorn to a delighted audience!

Our flight was scheduled for 7:05 p.m. so there was nothing to do except chill and watch football in our former room (which we had arranged in advance for a friend to take over for one more night since their flight wasn’t until tomorrow.)

At 3:00 p.m., the overcast skies cleared from the west and the Sun shone down on Washington D.C. for the first time since Juli and I first arrived.

We left the Omni Shoreham around 5:00 p.m. Which was a good thing because while the ride to National Airport was relatively sedate, the traffic going there was relatively heavy for a Sunday afternoon. Was this typical or was this a part of the early holiday rush out of town?

I had a little problem at the TSA Pre-Check; Juli needed help hoisting her suitcase onto the security conveyor and, if you have been paying close attention to my previous posts, I had a humongous book in my luggage as well. Juli and I had successfully passed through the TSA scanner but unfortunately, I had forgotten my travel bag on the table before the start of the conveyor. The TSA agent wouldn’t let me go back for it but a kindly traveler put it through and we were on our way.

As we taxied to the runway, we were treated to the sight of a well-lit Washington Monument, which was directly on our takeoff flight path. After a brief glimpse of the full moon as we rose in the air, I leaned back in my seat for a nap while Juli played a game on her phone. 

Our flight to the Greater Cincinnati Airport was supposed to take over two hours so we were surprised when the flight attendant announced that we were running an hour ahead of schedule. 

We landed safe and sound to an almost entirely deserted terminal, the exact opposite of what we saw in Washington. 

As we walked towards the exit, we encountered a flying biplane pig sculpture called The Spirit of Pigcinnati. The flying pig is the unofficial mascot of the Cincinnati area and we’re quite proud of the one hundred or so sculptures that still exist from the 2000 and 2012 promotional art events.

When we saw it, we knew we were truly home again.

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6 thoughts on “Barkley: DisCon III, the Fifth Day

  1. Thank you for the lovely coda to your travelogues, Chris, including The Spirit of Pigcinnati.

    I knew we were home when we got time with both cats, real coffee instead of repurposed Hilton dishwater, and a blessed total absence of badly jazzed-up Christmas carols. (I swear, next time I’m at the Washington Hilton, I’m going to hunt down that cassette tape and squash it down to neutron-star density.)

  2. I confess I’m enough out of touch to be croggled that a genuine missile firm thought a skiffy con was important enough to spend money sponsoring.

    Has there been any reaction from Raytheon to the anger it caused among parts of fandom? Again, if there was, I’m out of touch enough to have missed it.

  3. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: 12/26/21 - Amazing Stories

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