Friday, February 26, 2010

The People vs Chris Mancini

I never thought I’d hear those words. Instead of being intimidated, I have to say it was kinda cool. I felt like a supervillain who had just taken over Australia and then thought about giving it to Lex Luthor in exchange for Superman’s whereabouts.

Sadly, I hadn’t taken over anything. I chose to do an arraignment for traffic court. Of course my first thought was The People vs. Me? Which people and how many? Really, that many people against me? Seriously?

I had gotten a ridiculous, bullshit speeding ticket last year. Here’s the story:

So instead of shutting up and paying the fine and then paying even more money for traffic school, I did what they don’t want you to do: I went to fight it. AND I didn’t do it through the mail. I wanted the four star treatment. I was going to do the whole show. I was going to schedule an arraignment then I was going to face my accuser in a court of law. Pretty dramatic stuff for going 40 miles an hour in a 45 zone. Yes, that’s right I was going 5 BELOW the speed limit but since it was a school zone, it was 25 since there were some high schoolers milling around. But there was no sign and it’s nonsense. So I ain’t goin’ down without a fight.

I had done this before to please guilty once where I HAD been speeding, trying to get to the Rite-Aid to get my sick daughter medicine. (not kidding, cop didn’t care) It didn’t help that my daughter had, after a morning of loud crying from ear pain, decided to fall into a quiet sound sleep right before I got pulled over.

So I was at the courthouse early and brought a book. These things take time. The guy next to me didn’t realize that. They called his name, he checked in, and 10 minutes later he muttered “This is bullshit” and then just walked out and left. Now, I’m no legal expert but I’m pretty sure after you check in with the court clerk and announce yourself present that you shouldn’t just kinda getup and leave. I’m just saying.

The clerk/bailiff (he was doing both functions) encouraged people to plead guilty (the judge can reduce your fine!) was the sales pitch. Sorry, jerks. I’m not buying your snake oil. I have rights, and I’m going to use them for as long as I can to cost this court and the cop’s precinct the most money. If you’re going to harass me, I’m going to make it cost you. Even in this minor, small way. Little victories. Count them out.

The judge called my name and mentioned all the people that were against me. The people vs. Damn. That’s a lot of people. The judge looked at looked at me like I was a jerk for saying “not guilty”. He asked me if I understood the charge and that I was eligible for traffic school. Yes and yes, and he was not going to intimidate me into changing my mind. He did do me a favor and waive the “bail” which is the amount of the ticket so I didn’t have to pay anything up front. Another way they try to screw you is they take your money first and then if you win then you get a refund many weeks later.

So I went to the cashier and waited again, which I knew I would. I was not disappointed. After another considerable delay the cashier called my name and I scheduled a court date. This was an early morning cop and while I couldn’t get night court I asked for afternoon so at least they would have to pay him overtime. And I was able to push it to June.

I am going through the whole process for a number of reasons. The first one obviously is that this ticket is bullshit and I am fighting it. But a second one presented itself. I wanted to see how the whole thing plays out if you do the opposite of what they want you to do. I got the ticket in November, and after scheduling the court date I am not even appearing until June, and I haven’t paid a thing. That’s around eight months after I received the ticket.

I have my pictures of the intersection and the road with no school zone sign in sight and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. At worst, I’ll get a few more posts out of it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Hand Giveth, The Other Hand Slappeth in the Face

It’s amazing how the universe can screw with your expectations. I mean that in both the good and bad sense. My business partner and I, Graham Elwood, have been working on our company for the last three years or so. Or as my wife calls it: a "hobby". Not full time of course, as Graham tours with Doug Benson and I have been working on my book and taking care of our youngest. We’ve slowly been increasing the business. Sales go up and down, but mostly an upward trend and traffic on the site has increased.

Sure, we've had setbacks like the site going down for four months and not being able to pay bills, the site not working, knowing nothing about HTML or online shopping carts, the garage getting to cold to work in, even in Los Angeles, etc. We bought a space heater. Anyhoo, it's been both fun and challenging, and I really enjoy it.

So we started doing live shows in Los Angeles, a cool mix of comedians and filmmakers and screening funny short films like a mini film festival with comics talking about movies. And no one came.

So we rebooted. Hit the internet. Twitter, Facebook, started a Newsletter, etc. OK, maybe the next show would be better.

But then we did something we should have done two years ago. We started a podcast. Out of my garage, where we would meet once a week and schedule it around the baby/wife/neighbor filling in as nanny. Tough, but we did it. We record every other week and in three months we were number 15 in comedy on ITunes and 81 overall of all podcasts. We have thousands of listeners now. You can subscribe here, if you’re so inclined.

So we scheduled our next live show. All those people listening, how could a few of them not come out to see us live?

Then, we get to the show and expect tons of people there. I’m really happy and excited. They are going to have to turn people away! So we waited. And we waited some more. Then some more. The sound guy starts asking us if and when we’re going to start. After counting my wife, my friend, and the four people one of the filmmakers brought, two other people showed up. And two of the four people the filmmaker brought hated the show and didn’t laugh once.

So for about four months in a row the live show not only cost us money but hit us a little in the ego/gut. We had done everything right this time, and still no one came. But then we got home after the show and bitched to each other on the cell phone like whiny babies. But then we checked the internet and realized while no one had come to our live show, over a thousand more people had subscribed to the podcast. And we hadn’t done a thing.

So thinking like a business person and promoter and not a comedian/artist (for once) it made perfect sense to focus all of our energy on what was working and table what isn’t, at least for now. Now we’re looking into selling advertising on the podcast. That’s right, we’re selling out, and we can’t do it quick enough. The podcast numbers and listeners are growing at an amazing rate. We are very thankful, and realize we just may never see any of them in person. We can live with that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preschooler Questions You Will Never Get an Honest Answer to

OK, so the toddler was up at 5:00 am, didn’t nap, and our daughter is at dance class with mommy, giving me close to 12 hours of constant childcare. Right now I am either looking for a noose or toddler sized ether.

Also, I did a little spot for ABC News in LA about stay at home parents and a new website called You can check it our here:

Now, I have noticed there are a bunch of questions that you can ask a preschooler and never get an honest answer to. Here are but a few. Feel free to add your own in the comments:

Did you wash your hands?

What did you do to the cat?

Why is your brother crying?

Where did your vegetables go? Did you eat them?

Who do you like better, me or Mommy? (SURELY) this one will always come back a lie.

Are you calling China? Who do you know in China?

Is that your third piece of chocolate?

How do you keep ordering things off Amazon? You don’t even have a computer.

Are you scared of clowns?

Are you going to be good for the entire time we’re at the funeral?

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