Thursday, February 28, 2008

I took Barguments to Plum TV today. That's the cable channel that covers Miami Beach. Very fun. This is a picture I took while the hosts were introducing my segment. (I was nervous, and as a result, I can't remember either of their names.) She asked him if he would rather run naked through an office party or a family holiday dinner. He picked office party. So did she.
The cast and crew said they'd been throwing out barguments from the book all day.
I'll post a link to the segment once it airs next week.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A discovery at Barnes & Noble today in Coral Gables

Interestingly, Barguments fits all three categories.

There's a great bargument over bars going on at Sam Sessa's nightlife blog on

The topic: Name the five best TV bars of all time. You'll recall Sessa held some official barguments from the book last week. Now he's come up with one I wish was in the book.

Among the contenders on his blog, Midnight Sun:

The Lido Deck on the Love Boat *

Paddy's Pub from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia *

The Regal Beagle, Three's Company

Moe's Tavern, The Simpsons

Boar's Nest, Dukes of Hazzard *
Cheers (ok-- a gimme)
The Still (M*A*S*H) *

Stay tuned for updates.
(*= secretly submitted by me)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard gave Barguments a great plug on his afternoon radio show today on 790 The Ticket. Lebatard and co-host Stugotz threw out two barguments from the book: If you could implant one song in your enemies' heads, which would it be? And, pick a house from television to live in.

The phones lit up after that. Among the answers I heard:

The Brady Bunch theme song

The Clampett mansion (so he could sneak into Elly May's room)

Jetsons house

Wayne Manor

The Batman song

YMCA by the Village People

The Barney song

I Dream of Jeannie Song

I'll think of more and post them.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Barking Christmas carols, typos and President Pullman

Sam Sessa's Barguments contest on his nightlife blog on is over and the winner declared. Congratulations JTK, whoever you are. Lots of funny responses to the barguments Sam posed. Here's the post that set up the contest, followed by JTK's winning entry.

Fab Five Friday
Thanks again for all of
your bargument suggestions.
In case you're just tuning in
(and slightly mentally challenged), a 'bargument' is an argument best hashed out
in a corner bar.
I thumbed through the book Barguments by Doug Hanks and
picked out my five favorites.
1) Choose one of these rules to obey for the
next 14 days: Going for a hug every time someone offers you a handshake or
ending all telephone conversations with "Love ya."
2) You suddenly have the
ability to implant a song in your enemies' heads. Which one do you pick?
If you could instantly become five times better at doing one thing, what would
you choose?
4) If you had to tap a president from film or television to run
the country, who would get the nod?
5) Would you rather drink a glass of
melted butter or eat a small bowl of mayonnaise?
I'll post my answers to
these barguments in a little bit.
And I'll mail a free copy of the book to
the commenter with the funniest answers.

Posted by: JTK
22, 2008 9:32 AM

1.) Hugs! Everyone loves hugs!
2.) Barking Dogs'
Jingle Bells
3.) Speeling words
4.) Bill Pullman - He saved the
world from aliens by flying a fighter plane! Plus he was Lonestar. End of
5.) I once had a friend who was dared to eat a small jar of
gourmet honey mustard while drunk. He had one spoonful and tears started to
stream down his face, he responded: "It's so good when it hit your lips." Tried
to get down another spoonful, started to gag, then proceeded to leave via a
closet. We don't have barguments regarding food stuffs anymore.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Barguments Ink (or at least HTML Code)

Barguments got attention from two major newspapers this week.

As already mentioned, Sam Sessa, the Baltimore Sun's nightlife columnist, wrote about Barguments on his blog. He's actually had three Barguments postings. The last was him soliciting answers to five of his favorites from the book.

He's giving a free book to the funniest posting. No winner is announced yet, so you can compete (and save yourself $9.99) by clicking here. I'll post more about the answers later this weekend.

The other big Barguments mention came from the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Columnist Angus Lind (a born columnist name if I've ever seen one) wrote about the book under the headline "Tipsy Topics."

Read it here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Don't girls like robots?

This blog's new best friend, the Suburban Kamikaze, just left a post on the Barguments Blog that shouldn't be missed. It's posted below. Enjoy.

(If you're an editor from Simon & Schuster, do NOT click over to her blog and sign her on for a Barguments sequel. I can target the female demographic just as well. For instance: Which Sex and the City character would win in a bar brawl with all the others?)

The post:

Suburban Kamikaze said...
Dougie, baby,You're missing half your audience here with your television robots and your beer in a can. It's time to get started on the sequel, Barguments for Women. (Chardon-Nay or Yea?)Let me get you started.
1. You only have enough money for groceries or new shoes. Do you go with flats or heels?
2. An indecent proposal: Your husband agrees to a deal in which you will have sex with a charming and stunningly handsome Robert Redford-type mogul for $1 million. How will you raise the money?
3. And the classic: lipstick or mascara?I'm just saying,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well, I've found the perfect bar for a Barguments launch party: The Bar. Local readers know that's a good joint in Coral Gables -- a place not known for joints.

I was there tonight setting up a destination for a pub crawl after my March 4 reading at Books & Books. Basically, there will be drink specials and loud music. I'll probably give away some books to bewildered bar patrons.

Sitting there drinking my beer, it occured to me The Bar qualifies as a great bar. Among the reasons:

1. Juke box. Got to have one.
2. There's a glass beer yard hanging on a rack above the bar. Fun.
3. Heavy pours on the mixed drinks. (Hope no one gets fired for that.)
4. Foot rests on the bar. HUGE! Nothing worse than feeling like you're going to fall off your stool because there's no place to brace yourself down there. Of course, a foot rest can't save you past your sixth or seventh round...
5. A big stack of plastic cups by the door. Gotta love a bar that endorses to-go beers.
A final note: the bar photographed in this post isn't The Bar. It's too bright to be perfect. I couldn't find a photo of The Bar online. I don't think it has a website. How perfect.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's a cruel online world out there

I've had a roller coaster couple of days in the blogosphere. First, the nice and newly famous host of Suburban Kamikaze linked to my blog and even posted Barguments on her virtual bookshelf. (Do we still say "virtual" or does that sound lame?)

Then Sam Sessa, who must be eliminated so I can take his job, wrote about Barguments on his nightlife blog at the Baltimore Sun, where he recounts all the fun bars he has visited and asks for hints on where to go next. Lots of great comments on that post-- including this bargument suggested by "Andrew"

What's the best cure for hiccups?

Among the suggestions: spoonful of peanut butter, pinching your nose and chugging a glass of water while someone holds your nose, and a lemon with bitters.

But my favorite came from the very first posting, by "Drew." He wrote:

The best discussion I ever had was: What would
be the best name for a bar?

(My personal favorite is 'The Stumble Inn')

That's good stuff.

But then came the Barguments debut on, this great blog that hosts bargument-like debates and fixates on television. I had Simon & Schuster send the host, Craig, a book, and he posted a nice mention this morning. (I think he's all of 22 and gets more hits per day than most of my stories at the Miami Herald.)

Anyway, Craig can post something about his alarm clock or Godzilla on Valentine's Day and get 35 comments in a few hours (note the reptile with a heart above, which I stole from Puntabulous). But the Barguments post only received 11 comments, and I think I secretly provided three of them. And the Barguments Blog barely got any clicks from the site, despite Puntabulous receiving nearly 900 visits THAT DAY.

Oh well, at least the Baltimore bar flies seem to like me...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My college buddy Drew works for a major, world-famous and incredibly troubled investment house on Wall Street. Lots of anxiety about jobs over there. That explains why today Drew submitted 16 barguments to

But hey, others can worry about billions in write-downs. Who else would take the time to wonder whether Shaquille O'Neal or Ray Lewis would be a better member of a rugby team? Thank you, Drew.

Celebrity mash-ups (see how current I am!-- wait, did I use "mash-up" correctly? Better send out a Facebook message to see-- wait, there I go again...) always make for great barguments, though they quickly become dated. Something tells me the Bargument in the book about the American Choppers guys won't be helping sales a year from now on the remainder tables.

All of which makes this Drewgument so brilliant:

Would you partake in a 30-minute orgy with any A-List celebrity of your choice, knowing a video of your complete performance would be leaked to millions on the internet?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Barguments goes to Bawmer

Sam Sessa, who the Baltimore Sun pays to go to bars, wrote about Barguments in his nightlife blog. He's planning on posing some barguments from the book this week, and then have his readers bargue it out in the comments section. His first pick: Which are more fun: Friday nights or Saturday nights.

I say Friday, because it's so nice to be at your desk at the start of an hour and then on a barstool at the end of the hour. It certainly makes the beer taste better.

In honor of this honor, I posted the same bargument on

Visit Sam's blog, Midnight Sun, and post your answer. Extra points if you write it with a Baltimore accent.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Barguments goes upscale

Here's Hector, perhaps Barguments' No. 1 fan, starting some buzz for the book at the pooldeck of the very fancy Sonesta hotel in Coconut Grove. How fancy? They didn't even have Miller Lite. Don't be spooked by the hazy blob in the top of the photo. It's an unexplained phenomenon.

This is Danet Linares, local Miami real estate mover and shaker, enjoying Barguments at frequent Barguments stop, Flannigan's.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Leaderboard has begun attracting some submissions of new barguments from longtime barguments fans (read: my friends).

Meanwhile, the site seems to be getting OK traffic-- some of the barguments have 30 votes, and the site only allows one vote per IP address. That means there shouldn't be too many duplicate votes, unless you're voting at home and at work (which is encouraged).

It seems like a good time to analyze how these new barguments are doing. I've found it's hard to tell which barguments will be hits, and which will be guillotines.

[Guillotine is the term I use for barguments where everyone picks the same option. It was born late one night at Flannigans when a friend of mine, Tadd, thought he had a golden bargument: If you're in a guillotine, would you want to face up or face down? We couldn't think of many people who would pick face up. I believe Tadd was face down fairly quickly after that night ended.]

Have we had any hits yet from the submitters?

YES! Mike V. of Easton, MD (really, my cousin, Michael Valliant; read his blog about his insane jogging addiction) came up with one that has garned 26 votes and has remained almost tied since appearing on the site. The bargument: Pick the superior guitar legend between Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. Hendrix has the edge now, but expect that to change soon. And I thought classic rock died off in the early 90s...

Now, to balance that out with a couple guillotines....

Prolific submitter Drew H. of NYC (an old college buddy and long-time fixater on all things odd) has given us a couple that haven't exactly divided the room. Drew came up with one I thought was gold: would you rather get a check for $500 or $1,000 worth of loose pennies? Everyone picked the pennies.

Not me-- how could you even receive 100,000 pennies? How could you cash them in? Wouldn't there be a fee involved? Would the spread be worth it?

Then again, I've produced quite a few guillotines. How many slices of pizza make a meal? Almost everyone picked three. Shouldn't have put that one in the book.

Another Drew-gument: would you rather jog a mile on a hot day in jeans and a sweater, or on a sub-freezing day in shorts and a T-shirt? Everyone picked the cold day. I was surprised. Can you even survive wearing shorts in 15 degrees? I know I can't run fast enough to stand that cold, but I live in Miami.

Today Drew sent me an email headlined "I plan to prove my worthiness..." with a bargument I think will be a hit:

Would you take steroids for a year if you thought your current salary would triple?

A tempting choice. A kooky dilemma. Personal risk for material gain. Many of the elements of BARGUMENTS GOLD!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I remember sitting in a student lounge at the University of Richmond in the early 1990s, reading a one-paragraph Newsweek item about how the Internet was expected to become much more popular with the coming introduction of an interface that made it easier to see graphics and images online. It was called the "World Wide Web."

I can't recall where that fell on the cyberspace evolution timeline. I'm pretty sure the word "cyberspace'' was still common. Now it sounds dated. Remember the "Information Superhighway?" We should have known that wasn't long for this world: even "superhighway" sounded like something you'd hear in the 50s. "Did you hear they're building a highway with FOUR lanes?! It's a SUPER-highway."

But I seem to have missed a major online development. When did we stop having to use "www" when typing in web addresses? I sort of noticed that only stodgy newspapers still include "www" when writing about websites. And most of us have dropped "www" from our vocabulary - it's and, etc. But am I the only one still typing it in to my browser window?

Maybe I'm wrong, but the no-www rule seems to apply to every web address I try -- including (of course) and

It's sort of a shocking development -- as if, you one day realized you don't have to dial "1" anymore when calling long-distance. (Long distance, adj., a phrase used in the parlance of "land line" telephones, in which users are charged more for placing phone calls to areas outside their immediate location. The phrase lost meaning with the advent of celluar communication.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Not to obsess, but the Barguments page on Facebook has dropped from 26 fans to 25 fans. Who is this person that decided they're no longer a fan of a book that has not yet been released? Most of the fans who signed up are people I know, so I've been scrolling through the roster to see who's missing.

My Malaysians all seem to be accounted for. (Barguments had a surge of popularity among Malaysians one week.) Suspicion now falls on Miami Herald people -- I can't remember who had signed up before.

Was it you? Just go back and become a fan again. No questions asked.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Now to make this blog more complicated...

For the first time in many weeks, there's no live poll at the Barguments Blog.

Try to go on.
I know, this will disapoint some of the Bargument Blog's most loyal fans. (Also known as Ina, who sits next to me at work.) But there's a reason for this sudden, shocking change.

The official Barguments site,, has now gone live. It's in the early stage (not beta... I'd say somewhere between Epsilon and Lamda) but ready for your voting pleasure.
Check it out!

Then come back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

If you're like me, you've been poring over the delegate breakdowns from Super Tuesday, trying to game out the end of this extraordinary fight for the Democratic nomination. I'm starting to realize we're heading toward a nightmare scenario.

Hillary scored a big blow against Obama by taking California, yet his close victory in Missouri and the home-state drubbing he managed in Illinois -- not to mention a gaggle of wins in caucus and East Coast states -- handed him enough delegates to stay even with her.

Now we move to the Feb. 12 "Chesapeake Primary," expected to be favorable to Obama. (He's apparently polling amazingly well in both Starr and Linkwood.) That could let him close the delegate gap even more. Should Hillary fail to stop him in the big battleground of Wisconsin five days later on Feb. 19, that sets up a major showdown when Ohio and Texas hold their primaries on... March 4th!

Yes, the nightmare is upon us. The final battle between Obama and Clinton could fall on the same day as the Barguments release! Even worse, the primary results would be rolling in just as I begin my long-awaited 8 p.m. talk at Books & Books in Coral Gables.

Could I compete with the conclusion of an historic nomination fight in one of the most engaging elections of a generation? Unclear. Let's just hope I never put Miami Barguments fans to that test.

C'mon Hillary. Let's end this. (I say this even though the Grateful Dead has endorsed Obama. A knife in the back, and more of the same...)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Winners and Losers

After weeks of Barguments Blog polls, we can draw some conclusions about who's up and who's down in bars across America.

WINNER: Alcohol.

An overwhelming 66 percent of Barguments Blog readers opted to give up sugar instead of alcohol.

LOSER: Nancy Grace.

Asked to chain themselves to one of three celebrities, 16 readers picked conservative commentator Ann Coulter and 14 picked Rosie O'Donnell. Only two chose the occasionally rabid ex-prosecutor.

WINNER: Barack Obama.

He won the most beers in the bargument: Which presidential candidate would you most like to have a drink with? John McCain came in second. Super Tuesday bellweather contest?

LOSER: Lance Bass.

Only one person picked the ex-*NSyncer when asked to choose among four celebrities to be trapped inside an elevator with. Mary Kate Olsen narrowly beat out Tom Cruise and Martha Stewart in that contest.

To be fair, many people may not have recalled exactly who Lance Bass is. He and I happen to have the same book editor at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, so I consider him a fierce rival in the publishing arena. He's unaware I exist.

WINNER: Domestic Robots

Even as Rosie, the Jetson family's robotic housekeeper, leads the latest Barguments Blog poll (pick your favorite robot), loyal reader Johnny Scrappleseed weighs in with this nominee: "What about Irona, Richie Rich's robot maid?"

Sorry, KITT.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I just discovered NPR did a radio segment on 10-ounce Budweisers two years ago. But did they talk about the Eastern Shore? No. They went to St. Mary's County.

Now, as we'd say on the Shore, that ain't right. How in the hell can you do this story without hearing an Eastern Shore accent?

I originally broke the 10-ounce trend story back in the early 90s when I was writing for the Star-Democrat. NPR gave no credit, of course. I should have been their on-air expert.
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Budweiser sells most of its beer in 12-ounce cans. It used to be the most popular beer in the country. Now, I think it's 12-ounce Bud Light.
On the Shore (Jesus H. Christ, Blogosphere! Don't you know anything?! I'm refering to the Eastern Shore of Maryland -- the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay) Budweiser also sells beer in 10-ounce cans. And those cans outsell 12-ounce cans on the Shore.
It's one of the few places in the world where you can even buy tenners -- the others: the coast of Louisiana, Puerto Rico and, yes, Southern Maryland, home of St. Mary's County. But there's just now way Southern Maryland can compete with the Shore's loyalty to tenners. No way.

I'm listening to this segment as I write this post (it lasts five minutes). You can listen to it by clicking here.

The reporter interviewed all these locals at some St. Mary's bar. Most of them sound like they're from Connecticut -- except for the last guy, who talks about loading seven cases of 10 ounce into the mobile home when they go away. "I drink Bud, my wife drinks Bud Light."
He has a boat, too -- called "Ten Ounce.''

OK, I'll give St. Mary's some credit on that one. Wish I could track down that guy and give him a book. But gawddammit, you can't talk about 10 Ouncers and snub the Shore.
I'm not happy. It's one thing to have a local (me) write about tenners -- a term not used ONCE in the segment -- but when Noah Adams does, it sounds a little patronizing. Look at what these crazy beer-drinking country folk are doin' now!
Want to see some real 10-ounce fans? Come to the official Barguments launch party at the bar that started it all: Latitude 38 in Oxford. Latitudes will be hosting a Barguments happy hour on Saturday, March 15, from 3 to 7.

I'm hoping they'll put tenners on sale. Chances are, they'll run out.