Wednesday, July 30, 2014


My time working as a day laborer is over, for now. I've been given a long-term assignment as an accounts payable clerk at a waste-disposal company, and for the time being I will put away my steel-toed work boots for a desk job in a cubical farm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 29

On July 29, 1901, North American Councilman Clifton Burgen of Northern Vandalia was chosen by the Grand Council to be Governor-General of the C.N.A. Burgen's predecessor, Ezra Gallivan, who had resigned five days earlier, was standing by his side as he was sworn in.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 27

On July 27, 1940, North American Governor-General Bruce Hogg proclaimed a unity government including leading members of the opposition Liberal Party that would remain in power for the duration of the Global War "or until the voters decide otherwise."

Hogg's remarks were reported in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 26

On July 26, 1899, three days after defeating the Russian Far East Fleet at the Battle of the Okhotsk Sea, the Mexican Pacific Fleet landed at the Siberian port city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur.

Under foot

Yesterday I went back yet again to the vacant office space to help strip it down for the use of a hypothetical future tenant. The last step in the process has been pulling up the rest of the floor tiles and throwing them away.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 25

On July 25, 1901, the People's Coalition caucus in C.N.A. Grand Council met to choose a replacement for Governor-General Ezra Gallivan, who had resigned the day before. The two leading contenders were Councilman Thomas Kronmiller of Indiana, and Minister for Home Affairs Leonidas Rubey. Kronmiller had become too closely identified with Starkism over the previous two years, and his abrasive personality had earned him too many enemies. Rubey was a moderate who had remained in the background during the Starkist terror, and was considered a unity candidate, but was not considered a viable candidate for the upcoming 1903 Grand Council elections. Rubey himself suggested Councilman Harry Burroughs of Manitoba as an interim candidate who would step down in 1903. The caucus accepted the idea of an interim governor-general, but chose Councilman Clifton Burgen of Northern Vandalia rather than Burroughs. After the caucus voted for Burgen, Kronmiller remarked, "Burgen had everything in his favor. No one knew who he was, and neither did he."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scrappy do

Today I returned again to the renovated office space, this time to throw various pieces of scrap metal into a big blue dumpster, and to rip up floor tiles. Eventually, assuming the owner of the office space is able to find another tenant, they'll hire a contractor to replace all the aluminum girders, drywall, floor tiles, and ceiling tiles I've been throwing away. It's not quite paying people to dig holes and then fill them in again, but it's close.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 24

On July 24, 1901, North American Govenor-General Ezra Gallivan announced his resignation, due to the ongoing civil disorders which had been troubling the C.N.A. for just over two years. In his resignation speech, Gallivan said, "For many years I have cherished the grace with which John McDowell left office, and had hoped I could match it. This was not meant to be. Therefore, let me be blunt and direct. Events of the past two years have shown I have become an embarrassment to many in the nation, a source of serious contention. North America as a whole would be better served by my resignation than if I stayed in office."

Gallivan's remarks appeared in the next day's edition of the Burgoyne Record.

On July 24, 1934, Grand Council Majority Leader Herbert Lee, a supporter of Governor-General Douglas Watson's armaments program, was deposed by the Liberal Caucus and replaced by Councilman Charles Dorsey, an opponent of the program.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shaka, when the walls fell

Today I was back renovating an empty office, which mostly involved ripping down drywall and throwing it into a dumpster. You get a real sense of the transience of modern life when you spend a few days tearing apart the interior of a building and get to see just how flimsy it is.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 23

On July 23, 1899, the major naval battle of the Great Northern War took place when the Russian Far East Fleet and the Mexican Pacific Fleet fought the Battle of the Okhotsk Sea. The Russians lost sixteen ships, including two battleships, and suffered 20,000 men killed. The Mexicans lost no ships, and the only casualties suffered during the battle were nine men killed and fourteen wounded when a boiler exploded on the battleship Andrew Jackson.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The machine that goes "ping"

Today I helped to unload a heavy piece of medical equipment off of a truck and deliver it to a hospital. I think I'll add "medical technician" to my résumé.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 21

On July 21, 1839, a two-week siege of Michigan City, Indiana ended when the city was taken by an Indian army led by Chief John Miller, a Christianized leader of the Osage who claimed to be both the Messiah and a reincarnation of the earlier Shawnee leader Tecumseh. After taking the city, Miller's men killed some 5,000 of its half million inhabitants.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 20

On July 20, 1899, the Rules Committee of the North American Grand Council formed the Special Subcommittee of the Rules Committee to Investigate Charges of Treason, also known as the Nelson Subcommittee after its chairman, Councilman Henderson Nelson of the Northern Confederation. The Nelson Subcommittee was formed to investigate charges made ten days earlier by Councilman Fritz Stark that Governor-General Ezra Gallivan was in the pay of the Mexican corporation Kramer Associates. Ordinarily, the subcommittee would have been chaired by a member of the majority People's Coalition, but Gallivan requested that a member of the opposition Liberal Party be appointed "to remove any doubts as to its impartiality." Sobel states that Gallivan also requested a Liberal committee chairman because the Rules Committee's Coalitionists were all supporters of his rival Thomas Kronmiller.

 On July 20, 1962, Kramer Associates President Carl Salazar gave the first and only press conference of his presidency at K.A. headquarters in Taiwan. Salazar announced the successful test of the world's first atomic bomb, which had been developed by K.A., in the north Pacific three weeks earlier. "We shall never use this device in the cause of aggrandizement," he said. "But we will not hesitate to destroy any nation that has the foolishness to re-open the Global War." Salazar also said that the Kramer Bomb was "not a weapon of war, but one of peace."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 19

On July 19, 1899, nine days after Councilman Fritz Stark gave a speech accusing North American Governor-General Ezra Gallivan of being in the pay of Kramer Associates, and thereby setting off a wave of political violence known as the Starkist Terror, Gallivan met with Stark and members of the Rules Committee to examine Stark's evidence. Gallivan denied all of Stark's alleged evidence, stating that his documents were forgeries. He then asked the Councilmen for "a full investigation of these slanders, at the earliest possible moment," and they agreed.

Cuttin' the rug

I was back at renovating the office space yesterday, this time pulling up carpet. Given the near-certainty that someone would eventually be pulling the carpet up, you'd think the guys who laid it down in the first place wouldn't use quite so much glue. Apparently someone was a little too fond of his electric glue gun.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 18

On July 18, 1821, the enfranchised minority of Anglos and Hispanos in the United States of Mexico participated in the first set of elections under the Mexico City Constitution of 1820, electing governments for the six Mexican states established by the Constitution.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 17

On July 17, 1899, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán was disturbed by Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión's invasion of Siberia, writing in his diary, "The man is mad. Benito will destroy the nation, Kramer Associates, and perhaps the world if he continues this way."

On July 17, 1900, in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated in favor of his brother Michael.

On July 17, 1936, Charles Martin of the Burgoyne Herald wrote of Mexican President Alvin Silva's inaugural address four years earlier, "The voice was Silva's, but the words sounded suspiciously like those of El Jefe."

On July 17, 1967, North American Governor-General Carter Monaghan responded to James Volk's bestselling analysis of atomic-era diplomacy, The Bomb Myth, by saying, "It may be true that no sane and reasonable man will use the bomb. But who is to say sane and reasonable men do today, or will in the future, control the destinies of countries? We must have every safeguard at our command, and one is a strong deterrent force."

Monaghan's comments were reported in the next day's issue of the New York Journal.

Office space

Today I cleaned up after some unused office space underwent renovation. It turns out that disposing of fluorescent lamps is pretty easy if you don't care about mercury contamination.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 15

On July 15, 1881, the Massacre of the Innocents occurred when the Workers' Coalition, the political arm of the Moralista guerrilla movement, held its national convention in Palenque, the capital city of the Mexican state of Chiapas. The convention was raided by the Constabulary, and a riot broke out among the delegates. The riot turned into a panic-stricken flight by the delegates when the Constabulary agents opened fire on them. By the time the hall had been cleared, twenty-three Coalitionists were dead, including Coalition leader José Godoy. An additional seventy-give people were badly injured, including ten Constabulary agents.

On July 15, 1899, the Great Northern War between Mexico and the Russian Empire continued, as the Mexican Pacific Fleet occupied the Siberian port city of Okhotsk. Although Sobel does not specifically say so, the news presumably worsened the Starkist Terror in the Confederation of North America.

On July 15, 1914, the Hundred Day War between Mexico and France continued as the French force occupying the Mexican port city of Tampico received reinforcements.

The last dangerous pods

I spent Monday at the moving company again, finishing the last of their wooden storage pods. Perhaps other branches of the company will have their own pods to build in the future. Who can say?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More pods

My facile use of electric screwdrivers and glue guns was apparently so impressive that the moving company asked me back on Friday to continue putting their wooden storage pods together. Sadly, there were no Martian heat guns in evidence.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 11

On July 11, 1962, North American Governor-General Richard Mason appeared before the Grand Council to deliver a report on the films received the previous day of Kramer Associates' atomic bomb test. Mason's upbeat assessment of the situation surprised the Councilmen. Mason stated that the supercorporation's possession of the weapon assured "world peace in our lifetime," and prevent the nations of the world from resuming the Global War. "Now they realize war will be an impossibility. I see the flowering of this mushroom cloud as a harbinger of a generation and more of peace in the world, and in time, goodwill toward all men." Mason seemed puzzled by the lack of applause following his speech. That evening, Councilman Perry Jay, leader of the opposition People's Coalition, met with Mason to urge him to proclaim a "scientific emergency," and create a crash program to develop an atomic bomb for the C.N.A. Jay pledged that if Mason did so, he would ensure that the year's budget for the Mason Doctrine foreign aid program would pass the Council without debate. Mason rejected Jay's proposal, insisting that the two matters were not related. "We shall aid the starving, and remain a peaceful nation." Jay then went to the home of Mason's Minister for Home Affairs, Grover Speigal. Speigal was also disturbed by Mason's speech, but was convinced that he was rational. Sobel suggests that Jay raised the possibility of a no confidence motion in the Council, but Speigal rejected the idea, pointing out that Mason's term would end in seven months, and arguing that it would be better to allow the electoral process to take its course.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Today's assignment as a day laborer was to travel to a moving company to help construct large wooden storage pods, using electric glue guns (a tool I was previously unaware of) and screwdrivers. Man, that glue gets everywhere.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 10

On July 10, 1899, North American Councilman Fritz Stark of the opposition Liberal Party gave a speech on the floor of the Grand Council in which he claimed, "I have information which, if correct, would seem to indicate that Ezra Gallivan is in the pay of the Kramer Associates, which has purchased our foreign policy, lock, stock, and barrel." Governor-General Gallivan responded to the accusation by calling Stark and asking to meet with him "to examine these grave and irresponsible charges you have made." Gallivan noted that Stark had used the phrases "if correct" and "seem to indicate." Gallivan said, "This would imply, Councilman, that you may have doubts; if so, you had no right to speak as you did. I would like to explore them with you at the earliest possible moment." The C.N.A. was suffering from a war panic resulting from the United States of Mexico's series of victories against the Russian Empire in the Great Northern War. Stark's accusation touched off a wave of political violence across the country that was afterwards known as the Starkist Terror.

On July 10, 1962, films of the atomic bomb test conducted by Kramer Associates eleven days earlier were delivered to Governor-General Richard Mason of the C.N.A., President Vincent Mercator of the U.S.M., Prime Minister Philip Halliwell of Great Britain, and Chancellor Adolph Markstein of the German Empire.


Spent Wednesday morning helping a guy install a sliding door in a house. The job only lasted three hours.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 9

On July 9, 1940, North American Governor-General Bruce Hogg met with leading members of the opposition Liberal Party to seek their support for his policy of providing covert military assistance to Great Britain, which was at war with the Germanic Confederation. After the meeting, Grand Council Minority Leader Hugh Devenny told reporters "there will be a political moratorium until the 1943 elections."

Devenny's statement appeared in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 8

On July 8, 1846, the Confederation of North America seized the Mexican port of Tampico as the preliminary step to a planned drive on Mexico City. The North American force was under the command of General Herbert Williamhouse.

On July 8, 1934, a mass protest of over two million people was held in the North American capital of Burgoyne to protest Governor-General Douglas Watson's proposed military spending bill.

On July 8, 1962, Mexican dictator Vincent Mercator placed his country under martial law after receiving word of the detonation of an atomic bomb nine days earlier by Kramer Associates.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Left behind

Today I was sent out to an apartment complex to clean up an apartment whose tenants had departed (whether voluntarily or otherwise I never learned). Afterwards, I picked up litter around the complex, including the remnants of various types of fireworks.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 7

On July 7, 1850, the Battle of San Fernando ended with both armies retreating. General Francisco Hernandez' Californians had suffered 4,500 killed, while General David Homer's North Americans suffered 5,400 killed.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 6

On July 6, 1889, the Confederation of Quebec held a plebiscite on its status within the Confederation of North America. The options available to voters in Quebec were the status quo as a confederation of the C.N.A., complete independence, and devolution to an autonomous "associated state" status. Despite threats from supporters of independence, the voters chose associated status over independence and confederation status by 54% to 41% and 5%.

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

The early 1950s was the heyday of the live-action television space opera. Starting in the summer of 1949 with the premier of Captain Video and His Video Rangers on the DuMont Television Network, a number of science fiction series aimed at children were broadcast on all four American television networks: Tom Corbett, Space Cadet; Space Patrol; Captain Z-Ro; and Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers. Like Captain Video, all of the subsequent series were broadcast live, and as a result, all that remains of them are some kinescopes of a few episodes. With one exception.

In 1951, Roland Reed, the head of Roland Reed Productions in Hollywood, decided to produce his own science fiction television series. He commissioned a script for a pilot episode of a series called Rocky Jones, Space Ranger from one of his writers, Warren Wilson. Unlike the other series appearing on the air at the time, Reed intended for his Rocky Jones series to be shot on film and syndicated to individual stations across the United States. The pilot was produced between January and May 1952, and finally screened for Reed in September. Reed green-lighted production, and over the course of the next year scripts for 26 episodes were written. Because of cast changes for some of the characters, the original pilot episode was never aired, except for some sequences that were re-used in the episode "Bobby's Comet".

The series began to air on various stations in February 1954, while filming of the episodes continued. Sudden cast changes were required when one actor was jailed in February 1954, and another died in June. An additional 13 episodes were filmed between August and October 1954, and the last of these aired in November. After that, Roland Reed Productions ended production of the Rocky Jones series.

The series quickly fell into obscurity, though it lived on in the memories of baby boomers who watched it as children (including science fiction writer John Varley, who named the heroine of his Titan trilogy, Cirocco "Rocky" Jones, after the series' lead character).

Because the series existed physically as a set of film canisters located in the vaults of various television stations, it did not remain in obscurity. Most of the half-hour episodes formed the segments of three-chapter serials, and after the series' original run ended, these serials were formed into 90-minute television movies and were broadcast from time to time, just like the Hollywood B-grade monster movies they superficially resembled.

In September 1992, one of these fix-up Rocky Jones movies, Manhunt in Space, was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, followed by a second, Crash of the Moons, in November. This led to a revival of interest in the series, helped along by the fact that the copyright on the episodes had lapsed. With the series in the public domain, cheaply-produced DVDs of the episodes began to appear for sale.

However, while the original episodes of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger have been preserved for posterity, there is one sense in which Tom Corbett, Space Cadet still has the advantage. From 1952 to 1956, a series of eight novelizations of Tom Corbett episodes were published, and seven of them can be found at Project Gutenberg. Unlike Corbett, and unlike his fellow Space Ranger Lucky Starr, Rocky Jones has never been immortalized in prose.

Well, that's no good, is it? Something has to be done for poor Rocky, and if you want something done right (or at all), you have to do it yourself. So it is that the sprawling Johnny Pez blog empire has spread to a new blog, Here you will find my ongoing project to novelize the Rocky Jones television series. I'm still working my way through the first serial, "Beyond the Curtain of Space", with the sixth chapter having just gone up yesterday, covering the first seven minutes or so of the second episode. I can't promise that the work will go quickly, since I have a lot of other tasks taking up my time (this blog not being the least of them), but if the internet and I both last long enough, Rocky Jones will see himself ensconced within the field of literature (if not necessarily of print).

UPDATE: 6 July 2014: Four years after this was first posted, I finally completed my novelization of "Beyond the Curtain of Space." Now that it's finished, I've decided to publish it as an ebook on And since I'm trying to make money from it, I've removed all but three sample chapters of the novelization from the Rocky Jones blog.

If your hunger for a space opera media tie-in written by yours truly is great enough, you can buy your own Amazon Kindle version of "Beyond the Curtain of Space" for a very reasonable $2.99 by following the link over on the sidebar, or this link here. If you're a reviewer, I can email you a free review copy as a text file.

Can I actually make money from my quixotic hobby? We shall see. If by some miracle I actually do start selling dozens or even hundreds of copies of "Beyond the Curtain of Space," I'll naturally novelize more episodes, and maybe even write some original Rocky Jones novels.

Also, too, if you're a Hollywood movie studio looking for an established science fiction franchise to market, I'd like to point out that while the original Rocky Jones series is now in the public domain, my novelization is under copyright, and the exclusive film rights can be optioned for very reasonable terms. Have your people talk to my people.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 5

On July 5, 1850, armies led by General David Homer of the Confederation of North America and Francisco Hernandez of the United States of Mexico fought at the Battle of San Fernando, one of the major battles of the Rocky Mountain War. The battle would continue for the next two days.

On July 5, 1899, during the Great Northern War, a force of Mexican marines landed at the Alaskan city of Nikolaevsk and began marching south towards a Russian army led by General Mikhail Kornilov.

Point State Park

Spent five hours last night working at Point State Park after the fireworks show, helping to pack up a cookout sponsored by a basic cable channel. Also got to see fireworks.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Glue gun

Spent the day yesterday helping a guy install a new floor in a house he was renovating. Got to use a glue gun for the first time.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crunch time

Six months after being laid off from my job as a finance clerk, I still haven't been able to find another full-time job, and my unemployment benefits are about to run out. That means that I have to re-enter the hit-or-miss world of being a day laborer, taking whatever jobs are available (cleaning up construction sites, unloading trucks, washing dishes) for a pathetic $7.25 an hour.

So, the blogging is going to slow down for a while.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 2

On July 2, 1782, the Confederation of North America was formally established when the Britannic Design went into effect. John Burgoyne was sworn in as Viceroy of the C.N.A. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while the leaders of the five newly-established confederations of the C.N.A. were also sworn in in their respective capitals.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 1

On July 1, 1934, during his weekly address following the broadcast of the Galloway Playhouse vitavision show, North American Motors president Owen Galloway announced his opposition to North American Governor-General Douglas Watson's proposed bill to increase military appropriations. This marked the first time Galloway had ever spoken out on a political issue. In his address, Galloway said that "conditions are such that silence might be taken as assent, and this must not be." Galloway called the bill "unwise, unnecessary, and more likely to bring us to war than prevent a conflict," and he urged Grand Council members from both parties to oppose it and devote the country's resources to the "more pressing internal problems that face us today."