Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm not the only one trying to launch barguments. There's a funny blog at where the host, Craig, holds heated debates on topics like Name the Best Muppett (Animal, obviously) Martha Stewart vs. Oprah Winfrey (only one can make you an authentic Egg Cream Soda) and -- my favorite -- name the better season: Summer or Winter?

Then Craig and his guests illustrate their debates with kooky photos that, frankly, make this blog jealous.


Now, how can I top that?

(The very cold woman with the very cold drink was the Puntabulous guest debater. Find her at

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I should be in the shower right now, starting the first phase of my official work day. Instead, I just gave a thumbs-up vote to the definition of "bargument" I submitted to in October. There are seven thumbs up votes, and I probably contributed five of them.

This exercise demonstrates the uphill battle to be popular on the web. Things either catch fire or they do not. The definition for "choreplay,'' for instance, has nearly 900 thumb votes (mostly up).
Why is this on my mind today? I'm writing the final check to my web guy for It's too big a check to only have that site read by family members, coworkers and drinking buddies past and present. Do your part and make it a sensation. (Note: the site is not quite ready for an official launch yet, so that's why there's no link. So don't peek.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Now that I own an actual copy of the Barguments book, I've been testing it out with friends and strangers. I cringe when someone first picks up the book and flips through it. (Hint to people with friends who are authors: Looking at someone's book for less than 45 seconds is the equivalent to tossing said book over your shoulder and flipping on the television.)

The worst moment: When a bargument is read aloud and everyone answers the same way. Did I miscalculate in asking readers to pick the better songwriter between Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley? (Would Marley vs. Springsteen have been better? I think that was the original version.) Will anyone give up sunglasses over shorts? Only my sales ranking on will tell.

[Someone must be a fan. I just noticed Barguments has shot up to book No. 106,080 on Amazon, making it the 69th most popular Question & Answer book. It barely edged out The Standard Basic Dictionary for Programming but lost the 68th slot to Data Structures and Algorithms. Well, at least I'm in good company.]

But this blog offers some clues. I usually don't vote on the polls you can find nearby, but I did on the bargument asking you to adopt a robot from TV or the movies. So far, Rosie from the Jetsons holds a narrow lead, followed by KITT (the car from Knight Rider) and then R2-D2. Ultraman -- the giant Japanese robot summoned by a remote control -- has only one vote, and that's from me.

Is your world so safe that you feel confident you'll never need an eight-story robot capable of shooting laser beams? Have you not been listening to John McCain?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why does everyone love to hate Tom Cruise? Did he not give us Maverick. And the chase involving Guido the Killer Pimp? And the urge to spin liquor bottles in the air whenever we happen to be behind a bar?

Is it because he belives in Scientology, which involves spaceships visiting Earth? On the face of it, is that belief that much kookier than believing in winged beings who reside in the sky and appear on Earth to tell people to build arks, etc.? (Who told Noah what to do? A God or an angel? Let me know.)

This video from the Letterman show captures the Cruise controversy. People think he seems crazy when he loses it toward the end (it's a pretty long clip). But I found myself laughting at the story, too. Maybe aliens have altered my thoughts? Or the Devil?

Let's test the Cruise resentment with this bargument,

You'll be stuck in an elevator with one of these celebrities. Pick from: Tom Cruise, Mary Kate Olsen, Lance Bass and Martha Stewart.

You can vote on it in a poll nearby AND in the Beta version of the new Barguments site,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I saw Cloverfield the other night. That's one scary movie.

Even worse, the plot sounds so silly that people who haven't seen it practically roll their eyes when you tell them how scared you were watching it. But watching a home movie unfold in the middle of a cliche horror movie definitely adds a big dose of realism to it -- even as Godzilla's foot crushes a building on the screen.

As I was watching Cloverfield, I had a sinking feeling that the movie is going to make everyone have the same answer for a bargument from the book. (The entire world does revolve around my new book, correct?)

If you don't agree, you probably haven't seen Cloverfield yet. The bargument:

Which movie did the best job of being both scary and realistic?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First Contact

Look at what just arrived from Simon Spotlight Entertainment. (And yes, they only sent me one copy.)

Here, Herald colleagues Nikki Waller and Paul Cheung marvel over the new arrival. Fun fact: the cover is very shiny and water-resistant. Yes, Barguments -- a book with a coaster on the cover -- actually can serve as a coaster! Order one now before they run out.
Thanks to Niala Boodhoo and her cellphone for this action shot.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Robot Wars

A robot lives in my condo now.

It's one of those Roomba vacuum cleaners, and I'm a huge fan. You push a button, and the robot darts around the room, banging into walls and spinning around in search of dirt.
It does a better job than I ever have, which I assume would be a claim most domestic robots could make. How could they not be superior to humans? They're robots. They have one mission. In this case, it's vacuuming.
The company that makes the Roomba is called Irobot. That's also the name of the Will Smith movie where robots try to kill him and other humans.

This probably was smart marketing. Just hinting at that sort of technological advancement should help sales.
I think most of us would accept the TINY risk of planetary robotic domination in exchange for freedom from domestic tedium.
Time to walk the dog? Just click the I-Pooch's remote control and hope he doesn't incinerate the contents of its Droppings Chamber on the front walk again. The Roomba doesn't do well vacuuming on concrete.

All of this leads to today's bargument, which you can vote on in the poll nearby.

You've been granted a voucher for free a robot from the world of film and television. Pick from:





Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another night with the Barguments advanced review copy

This book made me very hungover Saturday morning. It really wasn't my fault. I stopped by the bar across the street from my condo, Flannigan's (Loggerhead to Grove locals) and happened to have the review copy of Barguments in my back pocket. (My weekends consist of me fishing for compliments.)

So there I was, walking into Flannigan's, when who do I encounter: Sam and Hector, the star bartenders from the Coconut Grove Sailing Club and early Barguments fans. How could I not alter my original plan of having a club soda and side salad in favor of drinking ONE beer -- strictly for PROMOTIONAL purposes.

By 3 a.m., my new plan fully executed, I walked home. Here are the photos from that night, and some from the night after at Berries and (it's so close!) Flannigan's, again.

From Night One, Sam and Hector. Would "delighted" be too strong a word to describe their reaction to Barguments? Enthralled? If only the woman in the background could seem so thrilled.

Here's Royce, standout Flannigan's bartender and Barguments fan. Next time you're there, ask him for a bargument.

This couple sat next to Hector and I (Sam left fairly early; did she have something better to do between midnight and 3 a.m.?!). The wife loved the book. The husband wished there were stools open elsewhere. Then again, he came to life on the bargument asking which U.S. president would make the best drinking buddy. He said JFK, having met some Kennedy offspring on a recent trip. Pretty convincing bargument response, I must say.

I wish I could remember this guy's name. He played DJ all night-- putting about 15 dollars into the jukebox. He's a waiter at Morton's and did not have a good night (despite it being a Friday) so his outlay was even more appreciated. And then, when I played Shakedown Street, he announced he was going to go home and download some Grateful Dead. Good stuff!

Hmmm. She seems to be enjoying the book so much, I feel bad not remembering a funny anecdote to tell about her. Let's just assume she made charming and adroit comments about Barguments. She looks the part. Glass of wine: classy!

The guy on the left (head down) told me he had wealthy parents and said he wanted the book now. He suggested he would pay big dollars to take the advance review copy -- the only one I own.

I, of course, was willing to take his money. But a solid offer never followed.

(Note the coaster on top of that wine glass in the foreground. Germ issues? I feel so bad about that sneezing fit I had moments after this photograph was taken...)

Here's Miami ex-pat and current California resident Ron perusing Barguments at Flannigan's at a reasonable hour...

Here are Norman and Rich, bartender and manager at Berries on Saturday night. Rich declared himself a Barguments fan. According to my field research, Rich is one of the few guys to admit that, if a million dollars was at stake, he would rather flip a coin than shoot a free throw. The reason? "The pressure,'' he said.

I agree, Rich. I'd flip the coin, too. Yes, the odds are with you on the the free throw. But why not just take the 50/50 shot and not worry about choking? Why blame yourself when you can blame the universe?

Be sure to stop by both Flannigan's and Berries in March, once Barguments is released. Both will have signed copies for your reading and barguing pleasure.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Changing lives, one Bargument at a time

After Team Barguments' recent filming mission on South Beach, the Barguments Blog received this email:

Hey Doug

I am the blonde girl that you stopped on the street for
your Barguments segment... too funny. My cousin Kevin looked up your page
and saw our pic on your blogspot. We are the non-controversial ones.
The funny thing is that my mom and his dad haven't spoken for 25 years (maybe
you need them on your video - it'd probably end up on COPS) and so this was my
first time meeting him and his 5 siblings. That night you stopped us was
the first day we had officially met in person (though he saw me as
baby). We are so much alike and couldn't help but laugh as we walked away
about how we agreed on everything (except cable tv, and that's only because I'm
more concerned about nourishment any day, even if it means cannibilism, but
don't tell that to my best friend!!!)

Anyway, thanks for capturing
a funny moment for us and posting it... it meant a little more than you

Check out my music.... or http://www.jaimefoxmusic/

Take care, and it was great to
meet you. Good luck with your book!

Jaime Fox

This is Jaime and her cousin:

Somebody email this to Oprah.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Crazy coincidence or potential royalties suit?

For fun, I decided to type "barguments" into the You Tube search engine. Only one video came up. It's titled "The problem with barguments" and it's three people arguing in a bar over whether one of the guys (Ed) tripped or fell while drunk. The odd part: the people involved are reporters I used to work with eight years ago at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del. You can read the details here.

The guy filming -- who you don't see or hear -- is Esteban Parra. This will sound more suspicious, but I've been reading his blog "Parra Grafs" fairly regularly after a fellow ex-colleague sent me there to read an update about another ex-News Journaler that Esteban had put on it about a year ago.

You should check it out-- his posts are usually very funny or sort of pitiful (such as when he gets out of bed at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and rakes leaves) but almost always entertaining to read.

I will say this about Esteban's You Tube post: it's one more example of someone misusing the term "bargument." You'll recall the new Urban Dictionary makes the same mistake. It's not just an argument at a bar. A bargument must revolve around a debate you would probably only have in a bar, or at least while drinking.

Arguing over how someone fell doesn't qualify as a true bargument. Arguing over whether you'd rather fall on your face in a church wedding or in a job interview would.

But as you watch the video (warning: early f-bomb, very loud), you can see a formula that should serve the Barguments book well: (Friends+alcohol)*Arguing=Fun!

The globalization of Barguments

The Barguments Facebook page now has 21 fans, including two people from Malaysia. (Hello Bahir and Jananee!) I assume that means Barguments the book will be HUGE in Malaysia. Should I give the Herald notice now?

By the way, you're not really anything until you've declared it on Facebook. So if you want to be a true Barguments fan, why not join the Barguments club on the site. Just search for "barguments" and it should pop up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hold off until you buy Barguments

Not to brag, but I'm currently reading Arthur Schlesinger's very thick collection of journal entries.
It's the kind of book that makes you hope someone will ask you what you're reading. Usually when that question comes up, I'm reading something lame (a John Grisham novel) or creepy (Harry Potter) so I scramble for something both unlikely and odd ("Currently, I'm rereading the 9/11 Commission Report.")

But what if you were never reading anything? That leads me to this bargument, which is adapted from the book and comes from longtime Barguments collaborator Eric Abell.

How much money would it take for you to never read another book?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Welcome back, Reno

Reno 911! starts its fifth season Wednesday at 10:30. The previews look hilarious -- George Lopez apparently guest stars as an embattled mayor addressing the officers. You hear him giving a speech that goes something like "The allegations, the finger-pointing, the semen -- none of that has anything to do with me..."

(That may not translate well in type.)

Reno definitely ranks as one of my favorite shows on the air, but not my favorite. That goes to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

But do I like that better than the defunct Arrested Development? Tough one. Sunny has Charlie, but Arrested was the first sitcom to combine an analyst and a therapist into one hybrid profession. (If you missed that reference, rent Season Three of Arrested immediately. Actually, don't. Buy all three seasons, and start from Episode 1. It builds like a soap opera with more inside jokes than any show in the history of television. So you need to start from the beginning.)

All of this is leading up to this bargument, which you can vote on in the poll nearby.

Pick the best of these cult-hit comedies: Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fawlty Towers, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Reno 911!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Team Barguments

Here are some photos from a recent Barguments outing I had with fellow Miami Herald reporters Jim Wyss and Bridget (B.C.) Carey in South Beach. Jim filmed me asking barguments to people for a video that hopefully will run on a Herald website.

Question No. 1: Jacket: too much?

These were people (above) on Lincoln Road. They agreed with each other on every bargument. Not what we're looking for.

Who looks goofier?

These guys were drinking beers on Lincoln Road, so we had to stop. Fairly fun group. They kept pulling in their friends from nearby to answer the questions.

These were our first stars. Two couples from Wisconsin having drinks at Finnegan's Way on Ocean Drive. (Thank you, Troy at Finnegan's, for letting us barge in and film.) They were grabbing the microphone, singing, and kept asking for more barguments. Still, I don't think they got into any big debates over them. Compatibility is the enemy of a good Barguments video.

By my scorecard, these guys were the best. Disagreed on quite a few barguments, threw out some obnoxious comments in their responses, the guy on the right kept threatening to break my face (his words) if I put him on camera. After we filmed them, I left the review copy of the book with them while Team Barguments had a round. That's when the barguing really started-- the three of them were pointing fingers and shouting as the guy on the left went through the book.

Big thanks to Jim and Bridget, who volunteered for the mission.

[Bonus footage: Here's a picture of a cocktail napkin at our table. Bridget is so freakily obsessed with Disney World, she's learned to copy Walt Disney's signature...]

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I've been seeing barguments everywhere, lately. The most recent: a website by the National Beer Wholesalers Association asking this question:

Of all the current presidential candidates, who would you most want to have a beer with?

This is very similar to a bargument from the book: Of all the U.S. presidents, who would make the best drinking buddy? I vote for FDR -- makes good martinis, likes to tell stories. Lots of people say Clinton, even though he's not a drinker,

What's funny is Hillary Clinton raised this matter in the Saturday New Hampshire debate, but in a derisive way -- suggesting Americans elected George W. because he seemed likeable enough -- someone you'd want to have a beer with, she said.

Anyway, who knew barguments could be so topical? You could vote on this poll at the beer wholesalers' site, but why when I have a similar poll nearby? I've narrowed it down to the top contenders.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Barguments bandwagon rolls on, this time to America's Newspaper. USA Today has a story based on a Fitness magazine poll on the punishment women would suffer to lose weight. (Aside from eating less and exercising more.)

Among the findings:

Nearly a quarter (23%) would spend a week in jail; 23% would shave their head;
22% would wear a bikini on TV; and 21% would trade 10 years of life, according
to the survey of 1,000 women 18 and older. Most (85%) would rather have an extra
toe than 50 extra pounds.
Trading jail time for losing weight-- very barguable.
(Thanks to for the photo illustration at the top of this post.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Last night, I sent this bargument out to a friend of mine who is a big (and now bitter) Hillary supporter:

Who would win in a bar fight between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama?

My friend (he probably wouldn't want to be publicly identified as a Democratic partisan, so we'll call him Bubba) wrote this back:

Right now, clinton wud kick the shit out of obama. Think how pissed he is right
now...Obama wouldn't stand a chance.

Skinny kid vs. fat guy. Chicago streets vs. weak heart. Thoughts?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dayman vs. Nightman?

One of the great tragedies of television occured when Fox canceled "Arrested Development," but that company has redeemed itself by airing "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on its cable network, FX. The show centers on four slackers (five if you count Danny DeVito) running a Philly bar, Paddy's Pub. Definitely the funniest thing on television today.

I've been uploading Season 3 to my iPod and noticed one episode "The Gang gets Invincible" (Mac, Dennis and Dee tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles, while Charlie tailgates the practice and trips on acid) tops the popularity ranking in iTunes.

One reason? It opens with a bargument at Paddy's. You'll find it below.

Who would win in a fight between a mouse and a scorpion?

(If anyone has a video clip of that, let me know. The oversized orange type doesn't really do it justice.)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

To make you hate people in first class even more...

I'm sitting in Maryland's BWI airport right now, waiting for a flight back to Miami. I almost always land an aisle seat, but this time I'm supposed to be by the window. I always feel more crammed in when that happens, making me particularly dread my seatmates. That's prompted this bargument...

From now on, you will be forced to sit next to the same type of passenger every time you board an airplane. Pick from: a cranky baby, a 350-pound man, or a chatty lush.

Vote in the poll, which (as always) you should find nearby.

Friday, January 4, 2008

If Jesus was stranded on a deserted island, which book would he bring?

Thanks to the New York Post coverage, Barguments' Amazon ranking shot all the way into the 40,000s, a new high-water mark since its debut on the charts this summer.

It currently ranks No. 49 in the niche Amazon subcategory of Question and Answers books, one slot above 3,285 Bible Questions & Answers by Emily Filipi.

Should have gone for 4,000.

At least my breath ain't foul

Vote on this bargument in a new poll, which you should find nearby (look right).

Would you rather date someone with bad grammar or bad breath?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Star Barguers

Tabloid Debut

As stated below, The New York Post jumped the release gun and printed a very clever story on a Barguments outing they did recently in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Definitely did the Barguments movement proud.

And the bargoers they found for the barguments -- they each deserve some ink in the sequel. See the screen capture of the photo spread above. Also, click here.
Staff writer Mandy Stadtmiller headed out to two great bars --- Freddy's in Brooklyn and Spitzer's Corner in Mannhattan -- with the advance review copy and posed some barguments to patrons there. Each duo hashed out the challenge, then Stadtmiller declared a winner.
My favorite -- the photographic confrontation between the Lion and the Bear in the Post's rendition of Bargument No. 1, "Who would win in a fight between a lion and a bear?"
Good stuff, New York! Brilliant answers. Only one obscenity. No obvious signs of intoxication (save the choice of "The Natural" for best sports movie of all time). Be sure to check back at Freddy's and Spitzer's Corner in March and ask for their signed copies of Barguments. They will get them as soon as I get my hands on the finished books.
[UPDATE: I just noticed that on the web version of the NY Post story, Mandy included some extra barguments. I'm pasting that passage, which ended the online article, here for posterity's sake:
Other questions from "Barguments" include these hot topics:
If you had to sleep with every member of a band, which group would get lucky?
You're in the water. Would you rather see an alligator or a shark?
With a million dollars at stake, would you rather shoot a free throw or flip a coin?
Who would win a war: Texas or California?
Which would you rather give up for six months: sex or alcohol?
Of all the U.S. presidents, who would make the best drinking buddy?
How many dates can pass before it's awkward not to have had sex?
Televisions will be restricted to only three channels. Pick them.
If you could collect royalties from any single invention, which would you choose?
Would you rather get a 20 percent raise or work a four-day week? ]

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Barguments, the New York edition

The New York Post called Barguments a "groundbreaking" book in a Thursday story, which I'm surprised didn't bump the Iowa caucuses from the front. In honor of the very funny story (which you'll read more about in a later post) the Barguments Blog offers this New Yorkers-only bargument:

If Derek Jeter played Eli Manning in a game of one-on-one basketball, who would win? What about if it was a bar fight?

Notify the Pulitzer committee

Big news Barguments Blog readers. The New York Post interviewed me last night for a story they're preparing on Barguments.

Entertainment Writer Mandy Stadtmiller headed out with the book to Manhattan and Brooklyn, and posed some of the barguments to actual New Yorkers. A tough crowd, to be sure. I'm nervous to read about their reaction. Hopefully, the Post can't print obscenities.

As a result, I will be preparing a special Bargument EXCLUSIVELY for New York Post readers. Not sure what that will be yet. Please provide suggestions.

Maybe a dare involving street vendors? (Would you rather chop off three fingers or have your liquid intake limited to the cooking water from a New York hot dog stand ?) Anyway, send possibilities my way and watch this space for updates.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Word of the Day: "Angry" readers recently tore themselves away from their latest Economist issue and voted Rosie O'Donnell the year's most annoying celebrity. (This demographic also follows politics, voting Bill the hottest Clinton in the same poll, with Chelsea finishing second place.)

Let's test Rosie's title with this bargument. Vote in the poll, which you should find nearby.
You'll be chained to a celebrity for 48 hours. Pick from Nancy Grace, Rosie O'Donnell or Ann Coulter.