Be Less Stupid, Video — October 15, 2013 at 5:16 PM

#DIY: Handcuffs & A Giant Outdoor Movie Screen



In just a few moments, I’m going to tell you precisely how I invented… and then built an awesome 10′ X 10′ backyard / outdoor movie screen all by myself in about 15 minutes… for less than $50 dollars on Sunday October 13th, 2013 – with no formal plans, no tools, no skills and just a single trip to the hardware store. But first, you need to know what motivated a guy whose motto, when it comes to home-fix-it projects is: “Measure once, cut twice. Also, you can call your dad or always run back to Home Depot 24 hours a day.”

The story you are about to read is 100% true. And the cops above are the actual police officers who threatened to put me in handcuffs! Over parking tickets.


The City of Los Angeles and I are currently in a dispute over parking tickets, which they say I was issued… and which I did not receive. Now mind you, I’m not disputing the fact that on a few days in 2012 the Parking Violations Bureau gave me a ticket for putting my car someplace it didn’t belong. Three times. I just never got them. As for what happened to tickets, I’m not in the speculation business. Anymore. Now I make TV shows.

Anyway, when I became aware of the tickets — through the DMV — who refused to renew my registration because of outstanding parking tickets, I did what any honest, hard-working, patriotic American would do: I called a minimum wage earning city clerk and yelled. I did the same thing to the clerk’s supervisor. And the supervisor’s supervisor.

Which was foolish. And I’m sorry for yelling at you, Tom Arnold.

After filing a notice of appeal with the City over the tickets (as the supervisor’s supervisor said)… I was instructed to wait 4 to 6 weeks & they would schedule a hearing.

Cut to: Last week. After finishing an errand, I returned to my car and a man from the DMV was putting a boot on the front tire. I very calmly explained to him that he can’t take my car to impound because I have not had my hearing yet. He said he had no idea what I was talking about. And that he was going to take my car.

I said: “Don’t be so sure.”

And he said, “You wanna bet?”

As a side note, asking people if they wanna bet about their car being impounded is one of the reasons people hate the DMV.

I asked to speak to his supervisor. He said he was the supervisor.

Clearly, talking calmly wasn’t working. So, I raised my voice (seeing as how well it worked the first time). I didn’t raise my voice a lot. I wasn’t some lunatic “Hockey Dad”, rather I was more like… oh, OK, I raised my voice like a hockey dad. But, a hockey dad who was very much in control of his faculties, who is talking rationally, making 100% sense, and sternly, but with a nearly imperceptible increase in both volume and urgency.

DMVDUDE.009Turns out — in California, talking sternly, rationally, and making 100% sense, but with a near imperceptible increase in volume and urgency to the DMV supervisor results in the supervisor from the DMV calling the police for back up. Actually, five cops for back up. There was the four you see in the photo above, plus a supervisor who was nearby on a lunch break came by as well, you know, in case anyone with a smart mouth was going to get clubbed, he wanted a piece of the action. I think.

I explained to the police that taking my car while actively involved in a dispute with the City was not how things are done – that it was not fair — that I knew my rights — that I pay my taxes — that I have read the Constitution — that I will write about this on my blog — and that it would be like me saying: I’m not going to burn your house down until we have a discussion about it. And then, before the discussion, I burn your house down.

It was at this juncture the cop said: “Sir, if you don’t move out of the way NOW, I’ll put you in handcuffs in the back seat of the squad car until they take your car away.”

I stood frozen for what seemed like about 40 minutes. On the one hand, I know I’m in the right and ending up in handcuffs would make for a great story — especially if I end up as a guest on a Late Night talk show someday. Or, if I ever get stuck on a elevator with a girl I want to impress. On the other hand, I’m married and my two children don’t think their dad is guy who needs to be handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car for talking sternly, rationally, and making 100% sense, but with a near imperceptible increase in volume and urgency as the result of some parking tickets — and I’d like to keep it that way.

Off my car went. And as a side note, my phone’s battery was dead. Seriously. Damn you IOS7. Thankfully, the guy at FedEx Office took pity on me and called a cab so I could get home.

Because the City won’t release the car until the tickets are paid, the following day I paid the tickets ($300 including the additional fine) plus the fee to bail the car out of impound ($325). Then, when I finally arrived back home I discovered my front tire was flat — a nail in it. Retribution from the DMV guy? The Cops? A gift from the impound lot? An unfortunate coincidence while driving home? No idea. Remember, I’m not in the speculation business. Anymore. I make TV.


After the car fell off the jack and nearly crushed my foot, I decided to do what I should have done first: pop the other tire, run out and buy a new vehicle and figure out some awesome lie to tell my wife about why my car is gone and why I’m now riding a Harley. When my delusion passed, I called AAA, who thankfully showed up in about 15 minutes. It was during those 15 minutes or so, staring at the car and thinking back 24 hours to when my car was booted, the cops showing up, nearly being handcuffed, having the car towed, walking to the AAA office near me to pay my registration fee and then taking a taxi to the impound lot, and finally discovering a flat tire — that I thought to myself: Jon, you are an idiot!

With somewhere between a hint and a whisper of desperation in my stride, I was determined to prove myself wrong. To prove that I am not an idiot. So, I decided to build the outdoor movie screen I’d been thinking about for the last few weeks. I had this idea in my head, no idea if it would actually work, but I was determined to find out.

You can see how the 10′ X 10′ backyard movie screen came out and how it works — in this video below.

If you enjoyed this, you’ll enjoy the 6-hour This vs That series as well. This vs That investigates the science within arm’s reach. You can see the first 10 minutes of every episode, FREE.

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