Sunday, June 27, 2010

The End of My Speeding Ticket Saga

OK, maybe SAGA is a bit of a stretch, but it has concluded. To catch you up, here are the previous two posts regarding this affair.

I now bring you the conclusion. I had my court date set. I was ready to go. I have my photos of the intersection all ready, I knew what I was going to say and was ready to try my case. It was so annoying to go through all this, but I was happy it would finally be done and I have to say it was also very interesting to go through the whole process and see all of the tricks the system uses to try and get you to just plead guilty and take your money.

They make it easy to pay, hard to contest. Pay right online! But to schedule a hearing you have to come down to the courthouse, then you have to pay your fine anyway as bail, then come again to the courthouse to try your case. And if you are found guilty, you can’t have traffic school so your insurance will go up too. Best just to pay us and take traffic school. They really just want you to shut up and pay. Well, for better or for worse, I’ve really never been very good at shutting up. And paying, well, let’s see where that goes.

So I arrive at the courthouse. Early, of course. I get travel anxiety so I really have to arrive everywhere a little early or I panic that I’m going to be late. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Everyone else is looking around to see if the cop is going to show up. They schedule these traffic courts in bulk, so all the cops show up in bulk.

I didn’t see my cop. Hey this would be easier than I thought. But as we all started checking in sure enough he showed up. In bulk. (yes, I have just made another fat joke. But folks, he was HUGE.) A fair amount of the cops showed up, but not all of them. If your cop doesn’t show up it’s an instant dismissal. The bailiff gave everyone one last chance to plead guilty if they were hoping the cop wouldn’t show up. Geez, enough. It’s your right. Go through the trial. At this point you have nothing to lose.

So I was ready. I had my pictures of the intersection with no school zone sign and readied what I was going to say. But then, something very unexpected happened.

The cop called my name and I went over to him. This normally doesn’t happen. He looked at me and said “This is going to get dismissed. The signage is messed up.”

“I know, that’s why I’m here,” I replied.

“I didn’t know it at the time. Wait for the judge to call your name” He was going to dismiss the ticket when my name was called.

So my name was called and the cop dismissed the ticket himself. This surprised the judge a bit, but it was soon over. I had won. I went over and thanked the cop. I had to give him a lot of credit. I don’t think every cop would have done that.

We walked out together and he agreed that he didn’t think it was fair. “That’s why they call it justice” he said. What a cool guy. Granted he was walking really slow and I started to get nervous. What if he changes his mind or finds out I called him fat in three blog posts. So I quickly thanked him again, quickened my pace and walked out.

So it was over. I saved a few hundred bucks and an insurance rate hike. Some days, you actually get to win.

It was actually an interesting experience and I’m glad I went through the whole thing. I definitely learned a few things. There are two things they definitely don’t advertise that you should know, if you live in California. Other states may have different rules that they don’t want you to know about either.

1)If you contest and go to your arraignment, the judge can waive the fine as your bail so you don’t have to pay a thing unless you’re found guilty at your trial date. Otherwise you have to wait many weeks to get your “refund” if you win.

2)Even if you lose your trial, the judge can also still you traffic court if he is so inclined so the points won’t go on your license.

So now I pay extra close attention to where the schools are. And the signs. And the cops. And the ice cream trucks. OK, I digress. But they’re the hardest to find, for some reason.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Can You Not Love Sting?

Right now I’m just trying to run out the clock. 5 Year old starts school in September and 2 year old starts preschool next month. Whatever will I do with the extra 60 hours a week? Update my blog more frequently for one. Maybe sleep and then look for my sanity, which I seem to have misplaced. I also got a new computer and lost all of my feeds. So now I’ll have to add everyone back in and start visiting again. So if your blog feed readers went down by one, that’s the reason.

I surprised my wife with Sting tickets for her birthday. She was quite pleased. In fact, my brother was in town so I got an extra ticket for him too, since he is also a fan.

Sting was playing at the Hollywood Bowl, which is a fantastic place to see a concert. Outdoors sitting on a mountain. Pretty cool. I got tickets late so let’s just say our seats weren’t great, but it didn’t matter. We had a blast.

Sting sold out the Hollywood Bowl with very little advertising. I tried to imagine what that level of fame would be like. You can’t go anywhere without being recognized And that’s not just in your home town, but all over the world.

Sting put on a great show. He sounded great, was personable, and gave us Laker scores. You could tell he simply loved what he did. It went beyond being a billionaire rock star. He just loved the music and performing for people. And then when he gets tired I’m sure he gets into his airplane made of gold and flies back into his secret luxury island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Invisible to radar, of course. Sting needs his privacy.

The dude is 58. I remember in middle school studying “rock” in music class and the teacher played “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”. We watched the video. This was when music videos were just starting. There was a guy dancing on a sound board in a studio. That was crazy! Yes, simpler times.

His old songs made me feel nostalgic but he played a lot of stuff I didn’t recognize, like some song about being a vampire and a few others. Not quite as engaging. But hey, he’s Sting. He can do whatever he wants. He brought an orchestra with him and even acknowledged that one of the cool things he gets to do is revisit his old songs that no one’s ever heard of. Well, probably cooler for him anyway. But all in all it was a fantastic show.

The other thing I like about the Hollywood Bowl is it’s for people who enjoy rock concerts without all the hassles of being a teenager. Starts at around 8:00 pm and you can sit and enjoy the show. Sure, people stood up in the front but where we were people just sat and enjoyed the show. That’s how I like my shows. No standing and you’re allowed to bring picnic baskets. Which at the Hollywood Bowl, you can do. There was a few “woo” “woo”ers behind us but not too bad. Then I turned around and they were all in their 60’s. Good for them.

But there was one real tool sitting next to me who wouldn’t stop looking at his Blackberry every five seconds. This made me annoyed for a number of reasons, first because I couldn’t get a signal on my iPhone. He obviously didn’t want to be there and was just there because his girlfriend dragged him there. Sorry dude. When you want to go see Nickleback or some other shitty band that dumb people like then you can cash in this chip with your girlfriend. Now it was annoying but I kept my mouth shut because he was rather large and muscular. Thankfully I think he thought the bench were too cramped and he and his annoyed girlfriend moved to the back after the intermission.

I don’t go to many concerts anymore and sometimes I miss them. But I don’t miss having a drunk teenager throw up on my Doc Martins. OK, maybe I miss that a little bit. But I love seeing bands and artists I grew up with still touring, and putting on a great show. I remember seeing Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago and overhearing a guy behind me say “My Mom saw Led Zeppelin live and now I’m here with her seeing Page and Plant” And then he threw up on my Doc Martins.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Evolution of Dad

Father’s Day is just around the corner. It means something much different when you become a father yourself. I was able to see a new indie film that just came out called The Evolution of Dad. Whenever someone asks me to see or read something I’m always a little skeptical. Especially when it has to do with parenting or fatherhood. The whole reason I wrote my book was because there was nothing for the dude to prepare him for fatherhood that didn’t sound contrived or make you want to hang yourself. Plus, I’ve seen many, many movies and my time has become quite limited due to having two kiddies trying to kill me every day.

But I watched it and I was quite surprised. In a very, very good way. Not only was this an informative, interesting documentary on what could be a very boring subject, but it was also entertaining as well. Funny, heartfelt, and not at all too long. You don’t think that last one is a good point? When you see as many movies as I do, length becomes an item worthy of critique.

I felt a real kinship with filmmaker Dana Glazer and his doc subjects. In fact, we have a mutual friend who used to work at the Sci Fi Channel (when it was still called that. SyFy?! REALLY? ) and that’s how I found out about Dana. Dana was an aspiring Hollywood filmmaker, got punched in the face by the industry and then had children and wondered what he had done wrong with his life and career. And as he learned, the answer is… nothing. Except maybe he could have kissed a little more Hollywood ass, but the truth is no one really knows if that helps or not.

The Evolution of Dad hits the modern fatherhood nail so squarely on the head you don’t even realize what the head is until Dana shows it to you. There’s been a double standard for years. MEN aren’t supposed to take care of their children. MEN are supposed to work and see their kids an hour a night and maybe a little longer on the weekends.

But this isn’t a boring, no point documentary like Babies. Glazer has a point, and he makes it quite eloquently through his subjects. The roles of Dads are changing but they are changing quicker than our ingrained perceptions and cultural beliefs, as outdated as they are. It’s also a well crafted documentary. The tuition money at NYU film school was not wasted.

Glazer doesn’t just interview Dads. He interviews lawyers, activists, psychiatrists, and yes, even moms. He tries to get to the root of what has been going on for years: Why is there a stigma to a man raising a child by choice?!

It is SO difficult for us as modern men in our culture to accept that fact that we can contribute to our families in ways other than financial. We don’t HAVE to work constantly. We don’t HAVE to be obsessed by work. In a weird way, our culture expects us to ignore our children as long as a paycheck is coming in.

If you are a new father, you should see this movie. If you are a veteran father, you should see this movie. Actually, if you are a parent you should see this movie. See how things are changing and how far we still have to go.

But the point is that things are changing. Thank God! And thanks to filmmakers like Dana Glazer for pointing it out.

Dana has also provided a little Father’s Day card. Share it with your father. OK, you may need to play it for him on the computer.

Find out more about Dana Glazer and his film at

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