Here's a good hint - when you go to the court hearing, skip the sarcasm such as "... sober California judge ..." The judge will listen to both sides and any witnesses regarding relevant evidence and will then decide. The preference of the courts is to dtermine matters on the merits, not on the basis of default.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.