The Quaz Turns 100

In case you don’t know (or—egad!—don’t care), I do something on this site called The Quaz. It’s a weekly Q&A with someone from sports or politics or music or theatre or, well, anything. The segment began on March 23, 2011, when a woman named Wendy Hagen, perhaps best known as one of Kevin Arnold’s girlfriends on the Wonder Years, agreed to indulge me and answer 10 questions. The following week I reached out to Chris Burgess, a Facebook pal who played college hoops at Duke and Utah before engaging upon a European career. He, too, indulged me.

What ensued from there was a project that us, unexpectedly, become one of the great joys of my life: Myriad people of myriad talents taking the time to engage. Most of the Q&As have been done via e-mail. A couple (two or three) were conducted via phone. The next one took place in person.

On Thursday, I’ll be running the 100th Quaz—a number I never even thought of reaching. N-e-v-e-r.

In celebration of the milestone, here’s a sampling of some of my favorite answers from the always quirky, usually entertaining Express section at the end of every interview. And I can’t thank y’all enough for reading, and suggesting interview subjects. Please continue to do so, by e-mailing me at The goal has never been to do Q&As with the super-famous. The goal has been to do Q&As with the super-interesting. Those two categories are far from one and the same …

Tommy Shaw, Styx guitarist

• Ever Think You were About to Die in a Plane Crash? If yes, what do you recall: We were on a plane with the Atlanta Rhythm Section way back when.  We hit the worst turbulence I have ever experienced, kind of like the scene in Almost Famous where the drummer spilled the beans a little too much.  I looked behind me and a couple of the ARS guys had bottles of Crown Royal turned up. The flight attendant spilled an entire tray of Cokes on ice on Chuck Panozzo. I’m actually on a plane right now as I write this answer and I’m laughing my ass off recalling that image. Ha!

Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated

• Did Albert Belle intimidate you? Why or why not?: No. Seriously, what was he going to do? Punch me? Maybe it’s because an Indians official once told me a story (true or not) that Belle thought Italians carried luck and he would have one of the equipment managers, who was Italian, walk around the clubhouse clicking two of his bats together to bring him luck.

Steve James, Hoop Dreams Director

• Biggest career regret: Consenting to long internet interviews.

C.J. Nitkowski, former Major League Pitcher

• Would you rather eat 40 nuggets of snot from the nose of Colter Bean or have to streak naked across Yankee Stadium before Game 1 of the World Series?: Tough call, one would make me throw up, the other would make 50,000 fans plus media and field staff throw up. I’ll streak.

John Backderf, Cartoonist

• Four details from the worst date you ever had?: Bad Chicago-style pizza. A near-empty dance club in Columbus, Ohio. Home by 10. She started dating one of my friends the next day.

Katie Hnida, First Woman to Score in Division I Football

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Only once and it was because someone had some seriously noxious gas. I was sure we were all going to suffocate. I remember thinking that if I got out I should write a movie called “Farts on a Plane”—could be more scarier than “Snakes on a Plane.”

Drew Magary, Writer

• Why are people so fascinated by the fucking Kardashians? And can you make them go away?: They’ve managed to make themselves the sort of catchall brand for talentless people, so they’re the go-to talking point on the topic. Also, men find Kim attractive, even though she’s gotten a lot of facelifts now and she’s fading fast.

Rocky Suhayda, Chairman of the American Nazi Party

• You have to eat either a taco, an egg roll or a bowl of Matzah ball soup. Which do you choose?: I’ve never had “Matzah ball soup”, but if I was hungry—who cares? I grew up poor … you ever try and eat “pig’s feet”, because they were cheap?

Alexcia James, Miss Black Iowa

• Would you rather date a guy with perpetual tuna fish breath or a pack-day smoker?: Hmm, hard decision because I hate both. I think I’m gonna go with tuna fish breath because you’re killing yourself with the toxins from cigarettes. Plus, I can start keeping a pack of gum in my purse.

Bruce Kulick, KISS guitarist

• Celine Dion calls—offers you $3 million annually to be the lead guitarist in her Vegas show. However, you have to work 360 days per year and dress in a pink evening gown. You in?: Could it be a purple one? If so, I’m in.

Frank Zaccheo, MS sufferer

• What the hell is an Italian kid from Mahopac doing on J-Date?: Why are you asking? Do you have problem with Jewish girls? By the way, you mean What the hell was an Italian kid from Mahopac doing on J-Date? I’m no longer on there since I met my awesome Jewish girlfriend Robin! She is an amazing!

Meeno Peluce, Photographer/Child Actor

• Better show—A-Team or Silver Spoons: Who fucking cares? Sit-coms post The Jeffersons generally suck, but when offered the panacea of the A-Team you realize why TV really is the deadening opiate of anything great America may aspire to. Hell of a lot of fun to shoot that A-Team nonsense though [Jeff’s note: Watch Meeno and Mr. T right here]. And lest it be forgotten, Joel Higgins was my father first in Best of The West before he was Ricky Schroder’s.

Wendy Hagen, Child Actress

$10 million or you never have to go to the bathroom again: $10 million for sure. The bathroom is not so bad. With the exception of outhouses—I would not swim in one for ten mill.

Jemele Hill, ESPN

• Your favorite Emmanuel Lewis moment:: Watching Michael Jackson carry him around like a Tickle Me Elmo doll. Why did we not think it was strange that Michael Jackson was bouncing another grown man on his hip?

Scott Barnhardt, Actor, Book of Mormon

Ron Guidry, Tommy John or Larry Gura?: You’re asking a gay musical theater actor this question … so I, in turn, asked my straight friend … he says Tommy John. I’m going with Tommy John. (And this is why I am the “secretary” for The Book Of Mormon Broadway Softball Team … I can keep scores and stats like nobody’s business.)

Dan Riehl, Conservative Blogger

• You cried during the recent Sarah Palin film. Explain why. And does this make you a wuss?: While I don’t perceive Palin as weak or in need of defending, a portion of her image as the GOP VP nominee was innocent, or pure, if you will. Here was this female governor no one basically knew thrust onto the national stage over night. It was the ugly, vile and even vulgar, relentless attacks spat her way that made me cry. It was the broader concept, or image that got to me. It could have just as easily been a child, or even a small animal cast in the role of the innocent. When I see innocence attacked so viciously I become very angry. My tears flowed from that, not so much from sympathy for her as an individual. She remained strong through the whole thing.

Michael Shermer, Professional Skeptic

• Who wins in a fight: Santa Claus vs. Big Foot?: Oh, no question, Big Foot would kick Santa’s butt. He’d kick ass on The Rock and Hulk Hogan combined. Only Andre the Giant stands a chance against Big Foot.

Jenny DeMilo, Professional Escort

• Your Amazon wish list includes a $2,325 electric guitar. A. How long have you been playing? B. Will someone REALLY buy that for you?: That’s not just a guitar—that’s Gretsch Sparkle Jet, first introduced in 1954! I play badly and have played badly for years. The porn stars get more wish list gifts, but you never know. It could happen. A girl can dream.

L.Z. Granderson, Openly Gay Sports Journalist

J.P.: When it comes to gays, what do you think people are afraid of? What I mean is, many athletes don’t want gays in the locker room with them? But, why? Like, what do you think fosters that fear?

L.Z.G.: Misogyny. They’re afraid gay men are going to start looking at and talking about them in the same manner they look at and talk about women and it scares the shit out of them. The thought of being naked and being viewed by another man in such a carnal, dominating way is unnerving. It threatens their sense of manhood because they’ve equated manhood with who they sleep with. In actuality sleeping with women just makes you a heterosexual male. Society has a lot of heterosexual males who are very far from being a man. And we have a lot of homosexual males who are the epitome of manhood– tough, disciplined, responsible, strong.