I am somewhat known for my eyebrows.  Thick, but not conjoined. I won’t say, exactly, that they are celebrated, but people seem to enjoy them.  (Maybe “enjoy” is too strong a word.)  They make me, me.  Now, there’s some grey.  Crap.  Because I am old.

And, my forehead seems to be creeping ever higher.  The grey used to be an awesome ebony.  Trust me.

The hair is much more grey than the eyebrows.  Also, my forehead is not the big.  Kids these days and their cameras.

The hair is much more grey than the eyebrows. Also, my forehead is not this big. Kids these days and their cameras.

Drive Time Music Lesson

On the drive in to school (about 30 minutes) Julianna (12) and Isabella (9) commandeer my Playlist.  And they insist on what the kids listen to these days.

Julianna: Dad, I hate Rock and Roll.


J: I just want to listen to music that kids like.

Me: You know, once upon a time, kids went to jail for listening to Rock and Roll…

I exaggerate. Slightly.

J: But you’re old.

Smacked down by a 7th grader.  So, we listen to a bunch of songs “kids like.”  Then, there’s a grown-up song that they like.

Me: Wait, that’s an actual grown-up song.

“If I Die Young,” by The Band Perry.

Isabella:  Why is that a grown-up song.

Me: Lots of reasons. First, she’s not singing about makeup and high-heels like Demi Lovato.  It’s a Country song.  The music of your people.

Iz: I thought that was salsa.

Me: That too.

J: What makes it Country?  I love Country.

Me: Lots of things. They way she sings, more nasal.  The harmonies.  The fiddle and banjo.  The sentimentality. The pickup truck.

Iz:  Santa what?

Me: Sentimentality.  Really emotional words.

“If I die young, bury me in Satin.  Lay me down on a bed of roses.”

Me: Yeah, that qualifies as sentimental.

J: So, kids shouldn’t listen to this?

Me:  Um, no. I would prefer that you listen to this over, say, Ariana Grande.

J: But I love Ariana Grande!

Me: I know Sweetie, and you’ll grow out of it.

J: Daaaad!  Stop!

Iz: Daddy, isn’t salsa a tomato sauce stuff that you dip your chips in.

Me: That too.  And music.  Oh, look, we’re at school.  Get out. Quickly.

Jury Duty, 2016. Part I

I last shared my jury duty in Los Angeles experience with you here:




Anyway, here’s my latest story of my run-in with the Judicial System in Los Angeles.  No, I am not a defendant.

The story is slightly NSFW, because there is ill-repute involved, not on my part (so ya know).  [Mom, that means “Not Safe For Work.”  Don’t read this at work.]

My expositions are getting longer and longer.  They’re turning into a Beethoven coda.  (Music joke.)


So, I got called to serve on a jury in Burbank during Labor Day week.  The secret is out of the bag:  ALWAYS delay your jury service to a holiday week if you can: 4 chances instead of 5 to be selected.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are the best.  Because, no one wants to be convicted on New Year’s Eve.

But, chances are chances.  I was called to the Burbank courthouse on the day after Labor Day.  Dammit.  Do I chance it?  Or delay?  The poker player in me says: let it ride.

Burbank is a sleepy city in Los Angeles County (any Johnny Carson fans?).  Nothing happens there.  I do the jury orientation online (:45 minutes) — I understand, don’t talk about the case to anyone, don’t record the case, don’t blog about the case…

I don’t expect to be called for anything.  Much less serve on a jury.

Burbank’s jury room is smaller than your Algebra II classroom. 50 chairs facing one another.  Knee to knee.  Really?  8 hours of this?  $1.25 Snickers in the machine.  Until the clerk says go home.

Big, meaty trials don’t come to Burbank.  They go downtown.  Which is why if you get called for Jury Duty, you opt for the smaller jurisdictions of Burbank, Glendale, South Pasadena.

Plus, it’s a holiday week.  What could go wrong?

Voice over the intercom:  Attention jurors, you are required to move to the Courthouse in Glendale at 1:30.

Shit.  They are moving these beautiful people to a different courthouse 10 miles away.  Is there a bus?

Court: “You can take a shuttle every 15 minutes.  Or get there on your own. Either way, you better be there or we will come after you.”  Again I paraphrase.  Park in the Marketplace parking lot 65 blocks away.  Take your ticket, we will validate.

(This becomes an issue)

So, I dash home (10 minutes), click click through email, have a ham sandwich, then head to the parking lot in Glendale and grab a ticket.

End.  Part I.


Jury Duty 2016, a Limited Series. Episode 2.


Ok. All of the Burbank jury pool contestants make it to Glendale.  We park in the structure (did I mention, this becomes as issue?) and walk the 4 blocks to the courthouse.  By the way, Glendale is lovely.  I even walk past the YMCA where Isabella does her flip-flop gymnastics stuff.

The bailiff calls us into the courtroom. We all stand up, raise our right hands, and solemnly swear.  The last time I did that, I ended up married.  I look around, no one is wearing white.  No one says “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Whew.

Wait, this is the Juror pool.  Back to the narrative (and I love my wife.):

The judge gives us a 20 second discourse on the trial.  A massage parlor.  Undercover police.  “Services” are offered, allegedly.

The trial will run 7 to 10 days.

Wait.  What?  7-10 days?  All of these people?  For this?  A Happy Ending?

But, the judge says kindly:  We won’t start until 1:30 each day.  Because, it is more convenient to mess up 7-10 days in the afternoon than to mess up half that time all day.  (Again, he didn’t actually say that, but he had very expressive eyebrows.)

Crap.  (Did I say Crap yet.  Probably.)

The judge reads the list of witnesses.  It has three names.  All police officers.  Who’s the victim of this crime?  No home owner’s association.  No pearl-clutching Church members. No human trafficking victim (a very, very important issue). No innocent bystanders.  Nothing.

The State, says the judge.

Judge:  Jury selection is often the most time consuming part of a trial.

Hence, 7-10 days.

They call the first 18 people to the jury selection box.  I’m number 15.  Voir Dire, (a French term meaning: tell us if you think the defendant is guilty so the liberal lawyers can object.)

They ask everyone a bunch of questions.  Turns out, my uncle worked in law enforcement for the county of Los Angeles as a Probation Officer.  The prosecutor seems pleased. I’m from a family of law enforcement.  (She also seems straight out of Central Casting: tall, pretty, thin, blonde.)

Then I open my big fat mouth:  Yeah, at family get-togethers tales were told, fables unfurled, bullshit was shared.  Cops and FBI agents.  Welcome to mi familia.  (Did I tell you about the time….)

I mention the “dark side” of police work.  Rules get bent, rights are questionable without a lawyer present.  You know, friendly, upbeat topics.

The prosecutor seems less enthused than I expected.  I thought I was cute and charming, what with my disarming demeanor and story of life as I know it.

Apparently, how the world sees me is different than how I see myself.  I am shocked.

The judge declares that today’s session is over.  Take your validated parking ticket to the structure and you’ll get away.  Oh, and come back tomorrow it 1:45.  Because we want to screw your whole day.

(I did mention this becomes an issue, right?)

Jury Duty, 2016. Episode III. A New Hope. (Ewoks need not apply)

Did I mention the parking structure.

(By the way, thank you for reading this far into my silly blog.  Also, don’t yell at me about  the Star Wars Episode III A New Hope thing.  Yes, A New Hope is episode IV.  Here’s my back.  Get off it.)

So, the bailiff has scribbled some sort of number on the top of the parking ticket.  Ignore this, she says, that’s for book-keeping.

The hell you say.

I walk the 33 blocks to the structure and get in my car.  I pull up to the gate, insert my ticket.  “Please Pay $9.00.”  Um, no.  The bailiff said Ignore…  I take the ticket back, 180 degree spin, re-insert.  “Please Pay $9.00.”

Crap.  Cars are lining up behind me.  I flip the card around, upside down, inside out.  origami the hell out of it until it looks like a credit card.

“Please Pay $9.00”

Now, civic duty is one thing.  And, I actually took a shower and shaved.  Deodorant, maybe.

“Please Pay $9.00.”

Dammit.  Now, there’s a line of about 5 cars behind me.  And, everyone wants out.

Out comes the credit card.  $9.00 ransom.  I am not happy.  In my haste to get past the arm, I forget to push the Receipt button until I am 4 feet too far.

Grrrrr*  (*not the actual expression I used.  It was something Factually Funnier and rhymed with Ftuck.  There was also an exclamation point, but I didn’t want to offend anyone.)

So, Home I go, gnashing my teeth about the nine bucks, this stupid trial, and the LA Traffic.

Can I please have a beer when I get home?

Crap!  We’re out of beer?!

Jury Duty, 2016. Part 4. I AM your father.

Yeah, Empire Strikes Back is “Episode” 5.  But, really 1-3 are not three complete movies.  Amiright?

Ok, back to the subject at hand.

Easy Jury Duty in Burbank Glendale.

On the second day of jury selection, I’m already pretty screwed.  I’m number 15 of a 12 person jury pool.  The guy behind me tells the judge that the whore is a prostitute because she was arrested by police and should go to jail.  Or be stoned to death.  (Again, me and the paraphrasing).  The judge tells him that no evidence has been presented.

Doesn’t matter to Juror number 6.  Guilty.

He is excused.

Juror number 8 asks why can’t computers determine a persons guilt.  The prosecutor tells him that the defendant has a Constitutional right to a jury trial.

Juror 8:  Yes, but computers are much more capable of determining facts than flawed people. Why aren’t we using computers?

He was excused.  Then texts someone on his Samsung Note 7 before the fire department was called. (I kid.)

Juror 9 was a police academy graduate but, sadly had a brain tumor which cut short his career.  He has many, many friends in law enforcement.  The prosecutor likes him, the defense attorney, not so much.  They pepper him with questions about bias, and his friends, and what he knows about law enforcement.

Surprisingly, he stays.

Juror 13, a spry 75-year-old woman who whispered to me earlier that she always believes the police before I shushed her.

She is excused.

Juror 15 (Hey!  That’s me!) admits that he has family members who have been involved in law enforcement in Los Angeles.  And, that over Thanksgiving dinner a tale or two was told.  You know, about the gang-bangers and the drug deals and the guns. And, maybe some rules that were bent.   While I never implicated anyone over any wrong-doing, the prosecutor looked at me and told the judge:

Prosector:  The people object to Juror 15.

Judge: Juror 15, you are hearby excused by the court.  We appreciate your service.  Have your parking ticket validated at the window.

You know how in elementary school when they pick teams for dodgeball and you’re the least capable player.  For the first time, I am not the least bit offended.

Now. About this parking ticket.


I talk with the parking attendant guy.  He has no power to offer a refund of my $9.00.  He calls the Boss.  They offer me two all-day parking passes at this random garage in Glendale.  Valid through January 3rd.

And, after my 2 days in court, I get a check for $17.62.  $15 for jury duty (second day only, by the way) and $2.62 for mileage.