Jeff Pearlman

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Category Archives: QUAZ

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Martin Ingelsby

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As a journalist I’m not supposed to admit this, but the Quaz has leanings.

I mean, just look at the all-time categorizations. I love people from Mahopac, I love writers, I love sex workers, I love Wonder Years cast members and I love love love love folks with ties to my alma mater, the University of Delaware.

It’s a strange thing, perhaps, because several years ago the school’s athletic department ripped my heart out by eliminating the men’s running program, and I swore I’d never forgive. But, ultimately, I’m a Blue Hen, and history is history, and love is love and forgiveness is forgiveness and …

I digress.

With March Madness upon us, I thought it’d be cool to extend a Quaz invite to Martin Ingelsby, first-year men’s basketball head coach and a guy who, from all accounts, did a marvelous job in taking over a pretty thin roster and leading the Hens to a 13-20 mark. Martin came to UD from Notre Dame, where he played point guard before serving as an assistant to (former Delaware coach) Mike Brey for 13 seasons.

Here, he discusses what it’s like to watch the NCAA Tournament from a sofa, how a coach goes about connecting with a new roster, why Michael Porter, Jr. won’t be receiving a letter on Delaware stationary and um … what the hell is a Blue Hen?

One can follow Martin on Twitter here, and learn more about the basketball program here.

Martin Ingelsby, you didn’t wind up in the Elite Eight. But you’re the elite 301st …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So … what’s it like watching March Madness when you want to be in it?

MARTIN INGELSBY: Honestly, I hate it. I feel like I don’t have any friends. To not be a part of it, I felt like I was a bad kid for the year and I didn’t get any presents on Christmas. It’s very weird. But that’s always the goal—it’s the end goal to teams. At Notre Dame we would always talk about, ‘All you need is access to be a part of it.’ There’s nothing better than being there with your team, celebrating your season, seeing where you’re selected, seeing your team on the board. There’s so much excitement to be a part of that. And it hurts to miss that. We weren’t really sweating out selection Sunday like some teams. But I wish we had been.

J.P.: This will sound weird, because people are generally like, ‘March Madness! I love the final!’ But my favorite moment is always that early spark for the underdog, when hope is alive and it’s ‘Vermont 12, Duke 9’ or ‘Delaware 6, Arizona 2,’ with a minute gone in the game. Do you get that?

M.I.: A little bit. I think the best part of March Madness is the first weekend, when you have the upsets, you have teams … the 5-12 matchups, the 4-13 matchups. It’s so much hope. And when it whittles down you really do get the best of the best teams in college basketball. But what makes March Madness special is anybody can beat anybody. In a 40-minute game you’ve seen some of the greatest upsets in sport history coming out of the NCAA Tournament. Teams have hope. If you play well for 40 minutes, anything can happen.

J.P.: Do you think we’ll see a 16 beat a 1 in the next decade?

M.I.: I don’t. I don’t. I think the ones are so good. Now I think the 16s can play them tough for 30-to-32 minutes, but I’m not sure a win will happen.

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J.P.: For you personally, what’s your greatest March Madness moment?

M.I.: Hmm … let’s see. I’d say personally for me, being a part of it my senior year at Notre Dame. We hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 10 years, and kind of putting our program back on the map. It was Mike Brey’s first year at Notre Dame, and just to be able to be there, to experience it. I remember watching the selection show in coach’s basement. To see our name pop up. We were the sixth seed, Xavier was the 11th seed with Skip Prosser was there, God rest his soul. And just to be able to be a part of it. So many memories over the year.

I’m from Philly, and in 1985 I remember watching Villanova knock off Georgetown and play a near-perfect game. Shoot over 80 percent from the field to knock off one of the best Georgetown teams ever. I remember being in my living room. My dad is a Villanova grad and I was a huge Villanova fan growing up. I was 7 at the time, and that’s the one I remember at a young age.

J.P.: If Georgetown-Villanova played 100 times, Georgetown wins 90 …

M.I.: No doubt about it.

J.P.: I’ve never asked a coach this—what is the transition like taking off a program? What I mean is, you’re named the coach of Delaware. Do you call [former coach] Monte Ross? Does that type of stuff happen?

M.I.: I did not. We did not communicate when I got the job. I’ve known Monte and his assistants for a while. I followed this program, obviously being from the area. I took an unofficial visit here when I was being recruited out of high school. But, you know, it was such a whirlwind for me to get the job. I interviewed in Philly, came down here and it was like, ‘Wow, it’s real. What do I do?” Because there’s not a manual listing the next steps. I did get the job, I went to Friday’s across from the Carpenter Center, I turned on my phone and I had 344 text messages to get through. So I got the tallest Coor’s Light beer I could get, tried to get through the texts and next thing you know there are another 325 texts becaue people are texting me back and forth. It’s a whirlwind, I’m thinking about moving my family, who do I need to call, who do I thank, talk to my parents, talk to Coach Brey. And it’s like, ‘OK, here we go.’ So that’s how it happened.

As a guard at Notre Dame.

As a guard at Notre Dame.

J.P.: Is the initial emotion excitement? Is it fear? Is there, ‘What did I get myself into’?

M.I.: Yes. Absolutely. All of the above. There were a lot of emotions. I remember when [Christine Rawak, Delaware’s athletic director] offered me the job I got choked up a little, because it was, ‘Wow, this is real.’ I had a chance to interview for some jobs over the last couple of years and unfortunately I didn’t get those. But this is the one I always wanted. I thought it was unbelievable potential; it’s a sleeping giant of an opportunity. So I was so excited to be able to et it. Leading into the interview I didn’t think I’d get the job. So I prepared myself not to get it. You know, maybe it’s just not my time.  So to be able to go through the interview, meet with the president, meet with the AD and to get the job on the spot—it was a whirlwind. Because then you’re packing up at a hotel, you’re heading down to campus, I have to talk to the team. What the heck am I gonna say to the team now? I’m going down there, we’re checking into the hotel, the press conference tomorrow, my phone’s blowing up. Then I have to speak to the team at 5 o’clock and I’m thinking, ‘I have to make a good impression on these guys so they’re excited they have a new coach.’

J.P.: So what was your message?

M.I.: So I went in, and I went around the room and I introduced myself and shook everybody’s hand and told them how excited I was to be their head coach, and that we have to get to work. And I promised them three things. I said: 1. We’re going to have a lot of fun; 2. Things are going to be different. And I said, ‘The third thing I promise you is things are going to be harder. And they have to be harder for us to improve as a basketball team.’ And it was short, and it was sweet, and it was, ‘OK, let’s get to know these guys.’ And I gave them my cell number. It was all about developing a relationship with your guys. I learned that from Coach Brey—it’s the most important thing when building a program. You have to have a relationship with your players.

J.P.: Here’s another weird one that I’ve never asked a coach. You’re Delaware. Do you send a letter to Michael Porter, Jr.?

M.I.: Haha.

J.P.: Do you send the letter, just for the hell of it? Or is that stupid?

M.I.: I wouldn’t waste … whatever a stamp costs these days, I don’t think I’d waste the 40-some cents to do that. You know, in recruiting it’s all about relationships and contacts and it was important for me to put a staff together to help us get really good players. Because at the end of the day I can be the best Xs and Os coach in the country, and it comes down to having really good players. I would love to recruit Michael Porter, but he’s not going to give us the time of day. I’d love to get our level Michael Porter … I mean, look, guys fall through the cracks and you need to turn over every stone. But we’d be wasting our time if we were calling him or Lonzo Ball—his dad. Can you imagine dealing with him in the recruiting process? You’d stay away from that one.

J.P.: When you coach at a Delaware … this is before your time, but when I was there they were opening the arena, and they had these sketches and it included banners from 20 years in the future and it was stuff like DELAWARE: 2020 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS. It was silly. Notre Dame, obviously that’s the ultimate goal. At Delaware, can you peddle that? Or do different schools have different outlooks on what they can accomplish?

M.I.: Yeah, I think each school has probably different outlooks. The blue bloods of college basketball aren’t worried about making it to the tournament. They’re about reaching the Final Four and winning a national championship. Um, not to say we can’t do that here. But we need to build our program to get access and be on a level where we can consistently get to the NCAA Tournament. I think it would be unrealistic to say ‘We’re going into this season to win the national championship right now with where we are at Delaware.’ Now, what gives you hope is a George Mason, a VCU, a team kind of at our level can make a run to get to a Final Four. A Butler, when they were building their program; to be able to make those runs and get to a Final Four and a national championship game … you need to have a lot of things fall into place and have some luck through the process. But we’re just trying to build our program to be in a position to reach the NCAA Tournament. Anything can happen. We have everything in place to be successful here. We have to get the players and establish our program and the culture to be able to get to that next level. It’s a process—the big word in sport is ‘process.’ The process to get there. I think we would be a little unrealistic and go into kids’ homes and say, ‘We’re in it to win a national championship right now.’ That’s not where we are right now.

J.P.: Steve Steinwedel is a former Delaware coach, and I always got the feeling he hated recruiting. You’re going into these homes, you know there are other guys selling their product, you’re begging an 18-year-old to come … how do you deal with recruiting? Because I feel like it’d lead me to put a bullet in my head …

M.I.: Hahahaha. Well just like sales … you’re a used car salesman, and you’re trying to sell an 18-to-22-year-old kid on an opportunity here at Delaware. Just like you would a student. When I got into the profession Coach Brey told me a great line. He said, ‘If you wanna make it in this business you have to remember three things and be really great at three things. One is recruiting. Two is scheduling. And three is recruiting.’ And he said, ‘Never forget that.’ That’s the backbone of a program—you have to have players. Obviously the way colleges recruit has changed over the years with Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat … the social media platforms. But I enjoy getting to know kids and evaluating prospects and getting to know families. You’re not just recruiting a 17-year-old kid, you’re recruiting his family. That plays a part into it. And you want a supportive family that’s pushing a kid to be a really good student, and also athlete. And as we recruit kids, it’s not just necessarily what they do on the basketball coach. You’re really trying to evaluate whether this kid is a good fit for our program. And talking o a high school coach, talking to a guidance counselor, talking to a teacher. Gathering information. Because one bad apple can turn a tide for a whole team. So it’s so important to get the right kids to build, and to know they’re represent your program in a first class-manner in everything they do.

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J.P.: Is there an awkwardness that comes with the phone call from the kid telling you he’s not coming to your school?

M.I.: It’s usually very short and sweet. Sometimes you expect it, sometimes you’re not sure. Sometimes, the ways kids now make their announcements, you find out about it on Twitter or some social media. You can tell by the tone of the voice that this isn’t going to go well. “Hey, Coach, I wanted to call and just tell you I’ve decided to go elsewhere …” You know, it’s hard because you invest a lot of time and money and energy in recruiting a kid, so to not be able to get the guys you want … that’s hard to swallow. Myself as an assistant, our assistants … you get to know a kid, you think he’s a great fit, he’s going to help change the program, he’s a starter from Day One, you’re invested—and all of a sudden he decides to go elsewhere. It’s a little knock on your pride. It definitely humbles you when you don’t get the guys you’ve heavily invested in.

J.P.: Have you had moments when you were completely, totally shocked by a guy not coming?

M.I.: At Notre Dame we had a kid who we recruited for, gosh, four years, and we thought we were going to get him. He was a point guard, he was really going to be a good fit for us. You know, it was between us and another school, but we thought we were going to get him at the end. It was, ‘Stay the course … stay the course—he’s coming.’ And all of a sudden he calls and says, ‘I’m going somewhere else.’ And it’s, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ You don’t say that, but you feel that. You’re furious. You don’t wanna talk to anybody. And nowadays social media makes such abig deal of it. It’s out there. ‘These guys won, these guys lost, they don’t know what they’re doing, how did they not get this kid.’ You have to have thick skin when you’re going through recruiting battles. And it’s different at this level, because we really have to recruit more kids than we did when I was at Notre Dame. If you had 10-to-12 kids on the board, you knew you’d get two or three of them. Here at Delaware we’re recruiting hundreds of kids, and you’re evaluating everybody. Because guys fall down to this level and there’s just more kids that are fits. Maybe not as talented to play at the high-major level, but they’re really, really good mid-major players. You have to have your eyes and ears open, and you’re on the phone all the time, and doing your homework, and watching video, trying to get the guys to help you take the next step.

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J.P.: Pardon my ignorance, but was it your staff that recruited [Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year] Ryan Daly?

M.I.: Yes. And I actually went to the same high school as Ryan Daly, and he’s a Philadelphia Catholic kid, went to Archbishop Carroll, that’s where I went to high school. My high school teammate is the head basketball coach at Archbishop Carroll. So Ryan had committed to Hartford in the fall, signed his letter of intent, some stuff happened up there, got out of his letter of commitment to Hartford and was going to kind of wait it out, because he really wanted to go to Delaware. He had a bunch of buddies that went here, was close to home. And then they fired Monte in mid-March, and they didn’t hire me until two months later. So he was gonna wait it out, kept waiting it out. And, literally, I had talked to Paul Romanczuk, the coach at Archbishop Carroll, and said, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ He said, ‘If you get the job, Ryan really wants to come.’ So I got the job, Wednesday was the press conference, I called him Wednesday night, I talked to his mom and dad and him and he said, ‘Coach, I’m coming. I’m going to announce it tomorrow.’ Like that, it got done.

Now I knew we were getting a good player—Philadelphia Catholic player, tough kid, knew how to play. Did I think he would have the freshman year he had? I’d be lying to you if I said I did. But just the consistency with the way he’s been able to play and the way he’s been able to produce for us. And the one thing I tell people is when you see him play in games, that’s what we see every day in practice. And that’s the one thing I give the kid credit for. When he steps on the court in practice he’s ready to compete every day, he plays his tail off. I tell people all the time, when he steps on the court he is ready to rip your throat off. He is ready to go. And there’s a toughness about him that you can’t teach and coach.’

J.P.: Do you find it weird when a kid like Ryan requests uniform No. 0?

M.I.: Hahaha. I was surprised. All these low numbers are a thing now. When I was in college it was the teens, the 20s, the 30s. Now everybody wants 0, 1, 2, 3, 4. They want these single-digit numbers. The guys here refer to Ryan as “Agent Zero.” I guess that was a Gilbert Arenas things when he played. That’s his tag line now. His hashtag. He had a phenomenal year for us.

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J.P.: Your dad Tom played in the ABA with the Spirit of St. Louis. Did he tell stories, or was it a bip?

M.I.: He actually went out there last year, they had a celebration for that team. He has some great stories, some probably not appropriate for the phone. He had a great time. He said it was complete chaos. He talks about the guys on the team, but the play by play guy on that team was Bob Costas. And it’s amazing to kind of watch his ascension in the ranks, and there he was. But my dad definitely has some great memories of being out there and playing on that team. I’m going to get this wrong, but he said the owners of that organization made one of the best deals in sports history, and now it’s paid off in huge ways.

J.P.: I often ask this of sportswriters, but I’ve never asked a coach—you look around the world and you see climate change, famine, war. Do you ever have moments where it’s a Thursday and you’re coaching a bunch of kids and you ask, ‘What the hell am I doing with my life?’ I don’t mean that in a bashing way … sometimes I’m writing a book and I ask, ‘What am I doing?’ Do you ever have these crises of conscience, or never?

M.I.: Sometimes. I remember being at Notre Dame and Coach Brey talking about that. As an assistant a lot of times you’re suggesting things, and the head coach makes decisions, and sometimes he would be in a staff meeting and say, ‘What are we doing? What are we doing?’ And then a second later he’d say, ‘We have the greatest jobs in the world … we have the greatest jobs in the world. It sures beats a day job.’ But sometimes you have to step back and put it in perspective, and whether it’s through the ups and downs of the season … I’m the oldest of five kids. I have a brother in California who’s in the movie business. And he’s a screenwriter. Sometimes I’m coaching basketball, he’s doing this in Hollywood, my buddies from Notre Dame are making a ton of money in the financial world. And I ask, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ And there were occasional moments before I became a head coach where I thought, ‘Maybe I just want to go back and be a teacher and coach high school basketball.’ You always have those thoughts in your conscience, and trying to figure out, ‘What is my purpose, and what am I trying to do?’ There is so much stuff going on. I don’t get caught up in politics, but with all that went on with this election—I watched it on CNN to distract myself from sports at times. And there’s a lot of interesting things going around in this country and in the world.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH MARTIN INGELSBY:

• Five greatest basketball players you’ve ever seen in person: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley.

• Worst loss of your life on the court?: I would say my senior year at Notre Dame when we lost to Ole Miss in the NCAA Tournament. That, and then my senior year in high school we lost in the Philadelphia Catholic League championship. We were 27-0, we were the favorites to win the Catholic League championship, we got upset by St. John Neumann. That was one of the hardest basketball experiences I ever had after losing a game.

• Would you recruit 17-year-old you to play at Delaware, and what’s the scouting report?: Absolutely. I’m trying to find one now. Or a couple of them. Heady guard, knows how to play, can make shots, makes his teammates better, kind of a coach on the floor. We need one or two of those guys right now.

• Three all-time favorite movies: 1. Hoosiers; 2. The Usual Suspects; 3. Goonies.

• If someone asked you to explain what is a Blue Hen, could you do it?: No, I couldn’t. I need to. It’s some bird that has a light blue tail or something. I need to find out, because people ask me and I say, ‘Oh, the Blue Hen! It’s a bird that has a blue … um …’ (Jeff’s note: He did sorta try)

• Five words that apply to Mike Brey: Um … cool, loose, confident, positive, fun dude. That’s probably six.

• We start you right now, tonight, for the Knicks at guard. What’s your line?: Geez. 0-for-2, 0-for-1 from three, maybe nine assists, two turnovers and a handful of rebounds. I probably could play 18 minutes.

• Have you ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash?: No. I’ve been on a lot of planes, too, and charter flights that have been a little bit scary. My senior year we actually got struck by lightning heading to the NCAA Tournament. That was a little bit scary. We had two band members who refused to come back on the plane when we left. You feel the lightning hit. Even the pilot got on and said, ‘That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. We got struck by lightning.’ And the plane, like, for about two seconds … we had guys on our team throwing up. It was a little scary. We were headed from South Bend to Kansas City to play in the NCAA Tournament through a bad storm.

• How’d you meet your wife?: At a bar in South Bend, Indiana. We went to school together. She’s from Denver, I knew some of her friends. I’ll never forget—we were at a bar, one of my friends said, ‘I have this girl I want you to meet …’ And the rest is history.

• I love the vision of you telling your wife from Denver, ‘Guess what? We’re moving to Delaware!’: Hey, we lived in South Bend a long time …

• The biggest cliché line used by coaches in pep talks is?: Oh, man. You’re putting me on the spot. I’ve always been, ‘Onto the next play … get onto the next play.’ That’s my thing. But that’s a tough one. You’ve stumped me on that.

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Kirk Haston

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I began the Quaz interview series six years ago, and over that period I’ve had myriad people try and guess my dream Q&A for this space.

The offered names run the gamut, from Obama and Trump to Michael Jordan and LeBron James. I’ve had people presume I want Joe Biden (liberal Blue Hen), Daryl Hall (Oates was magical No. 66), Celine Dion (her name has appeared in many rapid fires), J.R. Richard, Garry Templeton, Ken Griffey, Sr. (childhood favorites).

Nope.

Truth be told, my ideal Quaz is … Emmanuel Lewis, the former “Webster” star who vanished from the scene a decade or so ago. Why Webster Papadopoulos? Because he’s quirky, and funky, and non-obvious. His path intrigues me, his journey intrigues me. I’ve read 1,000 stories about all the suggested names. But Emmanuel Lewis? There’s just not a lot out there. And the Quaz is all about learning what’s out there.

I digress.

The magical 300th Quaz is not the elusive Emmanuel Lewis. In fact, it’s sort of Webster’s funhouse mirror opposite.

You might remember Kirk Haston. You might not remember Kirk Haston. Back in the early 2000s he was a star at Indiana University, then was selected in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets. His NBA career lasted but two seasons, yet he is—truly—a kick-ass Quaz.  First, I covered Haston in high school. Second, he has a Coolio story. Third, he’s faced genuine tragedy, but addresses it with profound beauty. Fourth, he can tell you what Bobby Knight’s sweater smells of. And fifth, we’re kicking off March Madness, and what better way to begin than with a Quaz who walked the walk?

So today, I bring you Kirk as my 300th offering. You can follow him on Twitter here to learn about his career, his family and his day job coaching high school hoops. Also, click on the link to order his new book, “Days of Knight: How the General Changed My Life.” 

Kirk Haston, you are the Hornets’ 156th all-time leading scorer.

But you are Quaz No. 300 …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So having attended the University of Delaware, and being there (and covering) two teams that lost, as expected, in the first round of the tournament, I’ve often wondered what it is to be favored and lose. So … Kirk, in 2001 your Indiana Hoosiers were a four seed facing Kent State in the West Regional—and you lost. And, with that, your season ends, everything goes quiet, you return to campus. I know it’s an ugly memory, but what is that like? How does one digest it? How long does it take to move on? And what, in hindsight, went wrong?

KIRK HASTON: It’s pretty rough when the two toughest losses of your college career are in back-to-back games. My toughest loss to get over was the Big Ten Tournament championship game vs Iowa and then the next toughest loss was the very next game versus Kent State. We had a hard time that season guarding small guards; we matched up much better versus bigger guards, but small, quick guards gave us issues and that was a big part of our downfall in both of those games. In the Iowa game, two guards under six-feet—Brody Boyd and Dean Oliver—combined for 34 points  and were the only two in double figures. Boyd, who only averaged 5.8 ppg for that season, scored 22 points in that championship game. Then in the Kent State game, a six-foot guard, Trevor Huffman, destroyed us. He scored 24 points in the game, including 11 of their final 15 points. There is only one team a year that leaves the court winning its last game played, so if you play long enough you learn how to deal with what the ends of seasons feel like. To me, the hurt almost always feels the same at the end of the season, even today as a high school coach. But the fact that it hurts that much at the end of the season just signifies that it meant a lot to you to begin with. Which is a good thing.

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J.P.: You’re the author of “Days of Knight: How the General Changed My Life.” Now, from afar I never much cared for Bobby Knight. Actually, he sort of reminds me a little of Donald Trump—the bombast, the insults. What do people (like me) miss from afar?

K.H.: Yes, I wrote a book about Coach Knight that slants to the positive … but that was what my experience was playing for the man. In my three years with Coach Knight I would say that I understood the reasoning behind 90 percent what he said and did in the locker room and in practices and that there was about 10 percent that probably didn’t do anyone any good—which I’d say is probably a fair ratio for most coaches.

I’m a high school coach now and if one of my players said that I made good points 90 percent of the time I’d be thrilled. One of the frustrating things for former Knight players, though, is that 99 percent of the media coverage and spin is all about that 10 percent of negative and very little of it ever touches the 90 percent of good. I hope my book can be seen as an honest look from within the walls of Assembly Hall at a coach who was a complicated man with faults that have constantly been pointed out while his positives have been left by the wayside.

J.P.: How did this happen to you? Like, when did you first realize, “Dang, I’m REALLY good at basketball”? Was there a moment? A spark? A lightbulb?

K.H.: I was by no means a kid who was thought of as player who would someday play in the Big Ten. I was always tall, but I was a bit of a late bloomer athletically. I was a sophomore and 6-foot-7 before I ever even got my first dunk. Between by sophomore and junior year I put in hours of work to get my legs and game stronger. Toward the beginning of my junior year at Perry County High School we were playing a road game versus a school that was three times as large as we were. I cut toward the basket on the right baseline and our point guard threw a lob toward the rim. The pass was behind me, but I reached back and caught it with my left hand and was able to finish the play with a dunk. I think that was one of the moments that made me feel like I was getting closer to reaching that next level as a high school recruit.

J.P.: You were the No. 16 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and I’m curious—what is it to be an NBA rookie? What I mean is, is it glamorous? Frustrating? Do veterans treat you kindly? Like crap? Was that a fun year for you? A frustrating one?

K.H.: My rookie season was tough.  It’s almost better for a rookie to start off on a bad team that isn’t in the hunt for the playoffs so to get more game opportunities. The Hornets were a playoff level team which meant there weren’t going to be a lot of meaningless games in which they could throw their young players out into in order to get some game experience since every game was crucial to playoff positioning (In my rookie season I never played double-digit minutes in back-to-back games.)

But I still came in with high expectations of what I would be able to do in my first year with Charlotte, since I was one of only a few forwards on the team. We had Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown, who I knew I’d be playing behind. But I felt like there were plenty of substitution minutes to be had at the forward spot. That is, until the Hornets traded center Derrick Coleman (who, by the way, was the only vet on the team who behaved as a bit of a tool to our rookie class) for George Lynch, Robert “Tractor” Traylor and Jerome Moiso. Nothing like having three extra veteran forwards added to the roster a week before the season starts. Paul Silas, the Hornets coach, loved veteran players, so going from third to sixth on the depth chart of a playoff team helped make it a long rookie year.

With Jerome Moiso.

With Jerome Moiso.

J.P.: Along those lines, I’ve often wondered what it’s like for a guy to leave college early, then spend his days sitting on an NBA bench. Like, did you regret the decision? Was it torturous, watching Indiana from afar as the team went on a Final Four run? Did you regret it? Do you regret it?

K.H.: In my heart I wanted to stay at Indiana for my last year, but in my mind I knew that declaring for the draft was the right thing for me and my family. Since I had redshirted I had already been at IU for four years and was all set to graduate, plus the longer you stay in college the more the pro scouts tend to overanalyze you to the point that you become a plummeting prospect stock. I was pragmatic enough at the time to realize that when you are someone who is not tremendously gifted athletically, but was coming off an All-American season, and was healthy, and had a really good NBA pre-draft camp … well, you had better take advantage of all of those criteria lining up at one time because you’re never guaranteed all of those things will ever line up again.

J.P.: So you were at Indiana when Bobby Knight was fired. In the heat of moments, everything is fiery, hostile, confusing, etc. Looking back, do you see the events differently than you did as a 19- … 20-year-old? Do you feel like there was a definitive right v. a definitive wrong?

K.H.: The No. 1 thing that still bothers me was that the administrators at the time had the chance the night before in our own locker room to tell all of the players that a decision had been made to fire Coach Knight. But that night they told us “no decision has been made.”  Then the next Sunday morning we find out they’ve called Coach Knight and told him he was fired.  Then the same administrators that wouldn’t talk to us straight the evening before wanted all of the players out there for display at the press conference the next day to announce the firing.  Looking back, if I had one mulligan, it would have been to never have agreed to go to that ridiculous press conference.

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J.P.: You’re 6-9—wonderful for basketball. But now that you no longer play, how do you feel about being so tall? Is it annoying? Can you fly coach? Do you get asked, “Hey, you play basketball?” at least 100 times per day? 

K.H.: You’d think when you’re 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, and wear a size 18 shoe, that would mean that people would be less apt to want to talk to you. But in actuality it’s the exact opposite. It’s odd the types of questions people feel comfortable asking, such as, “How tall are your parents?” and “Do you have to special order your bed?” and “Do your shoes cost more because they have more leather?”  Once I even got asked where I order my pants from. Could you imagine if I just turned around to the person in line behind me at a Wal-Mart checkout and asked them where they got their pants and if they slept in a special bed? They’d probably call over the elderly Wal-Mart greeter guy to escort me out of the store!

J.P.: Greatest moment of your basketball career? Lowest?

K.H.: Greatest: Going 37-0 and winning a state title my senior year after losing by one point in the state title game the season before (The Michigan St. game winner is a very close second place though!)

Lowest: Losing the Big Ten title game to Iowa in the 2000-01 season. We had knocked off the No. 1 seed, Illinois, in the semifinals but couldn’t seal the deal in the next game.

J.P.: This is so horrifically sad, but in 1999 your mother Patti was killed when a tornado destroyed a friend’s house in Linden, Tenn. She was an elementary school teacher; you were her only child. Kirk, at the risk of sounding simplistic, how were you—a college freshman at the time—able to move forward after such a tragedy? Was it hard taking basketball seriously? Hard focusing on … life? And, if you’re comfortable, I’d love to hear about your mother. Who was she? What was she like?

K.H.: It’s hard to come up with the adjectives to describe how close my mom and I were, none of them seem to do it justice. The best way I can try to convey what it was like to have someone like her as a mom is to pass along a brief story of my all-time favorite Thanksgiving. The year before she died, my teammates and I were coming back from the Maui Invitational. We flew back and landed back in Indiana on the night of Thanksgiving Day. My mom didn’t want me to spend Thanksgiving in my apartment by myself, so she surprised me and drove up 350 miles by herself and had Burger King hamburgers waiting for me at the apartment when I got back to Bloomington. So we ate burgers and fries and watched the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. It couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate that particular holiday. That was the last Thanksgiving I got to spend with my mom. She passed away six months later.  It’s also, to this day, the last time I’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life.

J.P.: I used to cover Major League Baseball, and it always seemed like the difference between a Ken Griffey, Jr. and a journeyman fifth outfielder was quite slim. A second faster swing, or 10 pounds more muscle, etc. Is it the same in hoops? What I mean is, in 2002 Tracy McGrady, Antoine Walker, Dirk Nowitzki, Shareed Abdur-Rahin all had huge years while you did not. So, what’s the difference between guys who have those sorts of careers, and a guy like yourself who was in the league for a brief span? Is it mainly talent? Health? Opportunity? And did you feel like, had things turned differently, you could have been a star?

K.H.: I don’t think I ever could have been a star in the NBA. It usually takes a combination of elite level athleticism mixed with good to great skills. Or, in the rare cases like Larry Bird, average athleticism with elite level skills. I do think I was capable of having a career that was in the neighborhood of six-to-eight years with career averages in the 8-10 ppg range and 6-8 rpg range. After I was cut from the Hornets I went to the NBDL and averaged 16 ppg and 8 rpg.  I know the “D-League” competition level isn’t what it is in the NBA, but I know that year in the NBDL also showed that I just didn’t go to the NBA and “lose” my ability to play the game. All sports success is a combination of hard work, timing, health, opportunity and coaching. I was very blessed to have hit the jackpot on most of those in high school, college and in the NBDL … I just didn’t happen to hit it when I played for the Hornets.

J.P.: You once hung out with Coolio. Explain …

K.H.: We were in Phoenix to play the Suns my rookie season. My teammate, Bryce Drew, and I stayed after our morning team shoot-around to get some extra shooting in at the arena. Our game started at like that evening, then right after our game against the Suns there was going to be a celebrity basketball game that involved—you guessed it—Mr. Gangsta Paradise himself, Coolio.

As Bryce and I were in the empty arena working out, Coolio came in to get some pregame work in also. We all talked for a bit and just hung out there on the Suns’ court for awhile. The real payoff for this encounter came a few hours later though. I hadn’t told any of my teammates that I had bumped into Coolio earlier in the day, so imagine the looks on the faces of Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown as we are leaving the floor after our game and walk by the celebrities waiting to take the court and Coolio reaches out and gives me—of all people on the team—the good ol’ half five, half hug as we go to our locker room.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH KIRK HASTON:

• Five reasons one should make Lobelville, Tenn. His/her next vacation destination: How about three? 1. The Buffalo River: rock bottom, clear water, good fishing, good swimming, and it’s where Coach Knight accidentally got thrown overboard while on a fishing trip while visiting my hometown in 1999; 2. The Buffalo River Country Club: It’s definitely no Augusta National, but it has great golf tourneys and even better folks to play with and against; 3. Hunting: some of the best deer and turkey hunting you will find in the area.

• How did you meet your wife?: I was driving to the gym to work out at college campus near my hometown in Tennessee and I saw her walking across the parking lot. I stopped, rolled down my window, said hello, and asked her if she’d like to go out sometime. I figured that if she said “no,” at least I was in my truck with the motor running and could make a quick getaway.  Luckily, she said yes.

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Jarrad Odle, Margot Robbie, Robert’s Western World, Eldridge Recasner, ear wax, the number 902, flying coach, Viola Davis, rap music, your left ear: Wow … just wow. Well, here goes nothing: 1. Margot Robbie (no explanation needed); 2. The number 902: because it’s probably close to the amount of times I’ve watched JawsGhostbustersThe Godfather and Back to the Future combined; 3. Jarrad Odle: Blunt friends are hard to find, when you do find them be happy they’re on your side; 4. Eldridge Recasner: Anyone who once played for the Presto Ice Cream Kings has to be in this top 5; 5. Viola Davis: In one of the rare, good Shia LeBeouf movies, Disturbia; 6. Rap Music: My friendship with Coolio says it all; 7. Ear wax: Is there any other product like the Q-tip in which one of the main reasons it’s purchased and used (to clean out ears) is actually not what it is recommended to be used for?; 8. My left ear: it sticks out too far and catches too much wind which leads to ear aches; 9. Robert’s Western World: I’m not a drinker, nor a liker of fried bologna so I’m out on RWW; 9. Flying coach: flying period actually.  I’m not afraid to fly, just afraid of what my knees feel like after having the seat in front of me lean back into them for two hours.  Exit rows for folks over 6-foor-5 is a must.

• The world needs to know—what was it like playing with Lee Nailon?: That, along with what will happen with our nation’s healthcare program, does seem to be some of the most pressing questions these days. Let’s just say this—there is a story that involves him, a plane, Canadian customs and a dog that should be told some day … but not now.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: No, but there were times after Big Ten road game losses that I thought I might get thrown off the plane because of how badly I’d played defense. (Before there is an Indy Star or ESPN investigation, let me say that I’m only kidding.)

• Five all-time greatest players you stood alongside on a basketball court?: Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Johnson, Tim Duncan

• What does Bobby Knight’s red sweater smell like?: Doughnuts and Boilermaker tears

• You have three kids. What’s your go-to parenting move if they’re all upset?: “Time to watch old YouTube highlights of your dad playing at IU!” … puts them to sleep every time.

• Five coolest NBA uniforms? Five ugliest?: Coolest—Lakers, Spurs, Bulls, Thunder, Sixers; Ugliest—Raptors, Hawks, Bucks, Rockets, Kings.

• One question you would ask Donna Reed were she here right now: What did you think of how bad Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty botched the end of the Oscars?

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Rabbi Jeremy Markiz

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I’m not sure what it says about my priorities that it has taken me six years and 299 Quazes for a rabbi to appear in this space.

Through the weeks I’ve had sex workers, white supremacists, morticians, Trump voters, ballet dancers, rappers, athletes, politicians, priests. I’ve had academics, coaches, high schoolers, gurus. Some have been amazing, some have been crappy. Some have made me laugh, some have made me cry.

Never, however, was I compelled to host a rabbi. Which, again, is sorta weird … considering I’m Jewish.

Well, today the long national nightmare comes to an end. Jeremy Markiz is a Pittsburgh-based conservative/Masorti rabbi who—in his words—”seeks to explore how, through the lens of Torah, we can inspire justice, love of all people, and build healthy and meaningful relationships with each other and God.” He also happens to host a fabulous blog and podcast (Mind Lox), and is a tremendous Twitter and Facebook follow.

Soooooo … mazel tov, Rabbi Markiz! You’re the 299th Quaz Q&A …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Rabbi, I’m going to start with a weird question, and it’s probably sort of off-putting. Namely, what the hell do you know? What I mean is, you’re probably 15-to-20 years my junior. You’re too young to have experienced tons and tons of stuff. Massive death, the loss of a parent, election highs and lows, etc … etc. I mean, I know you have some exposure. Because we all do. But, going off of age, it has to be limited. So why would people turn to you, as their rabbi, in time of need?

JEREMY MARKIZ: There is a real truth underlying your question here—what does a late 20s, trauma-free rabbi have to share? I can admit, I’ve been very fortunate to have had an easy life, without much loss, no kids, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a chaplain, while a rabbinical student in Los Angeles, and I can say, most people aren’t really looking for answers. People want to know that someone is there to listen, to honor their questions and their struggles, to feel like they have someone on their team. So yes, I can’t really counsel someone on how they should raise their kids or whether or not they should pull the plug on their beloved parent (not to mention that I’m not professionally qualified for that). What I can offer is, ultimately, love. To love someone by listening, by struggling with them, and by providing any wisdom that the Jewish tradition might have to offer.

J.P.: Do you believe in life after death? Heaven and hell? Does the possibility of eternal nothingness scare you at all? Worry you? Are you comfortable if this is as good as it gets?

J.M.: I don’t know. Are you surprised? I definitely don’t believe in a heaven or a hell in the fluffy white clouds and eternal fire sense. The rabbis did describe a Gehenom, a sort of purgatory, and there are references to an underworld, but neither ever really did it for me. The rabbis didn’t have an answer and in truth, it didn’t matter. For the rabbis, and this is true for me as well, the focus was, and still is, about what we do in the here and now. How I actually treat my neighbor is more important than whether or not we’ll give each other high fives in some afterlife. That being said, the Law of the Conservation of Energy has always spoken to me. We’re not solely a body and a brain, there is a spark of energy that seems to animate us. The total is greater than the some of the parts might be a good analogy. As such, I believe that energy goes somewhere. To where? Who knows …

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J.P.: So I know you attended the University of Oregon, graduated in 2010, then received a masters degree from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2016. But why become a rabbi? When did it first interest you? What was the path? And how did/does your family feel?

J.M.: I’m not sure this will put me in the greatest light, but I went to rabbinical school for myself. I had always wanted to learn in a serious way, to study Talmud, and explore the tradition deeply. Rabbinical school was the way I did that. That isn’t to say I’m selfish, no more than anyone else at least. I have always been involved in building community, taking on leadership roles, and serving others, so my rabbinate would always include that. I remember in the sixth grade, we had to do a job shadow project. I followed the rabbi around, sitting in on his meetings, visiting the sick in the hospital. It sank pretty deep in my bones, I guess. After that, I took leadership roles in my youth group in high school, focused my studies towards Judaism in college, and was deeply involved with Hillel there. Spending time in Israel in high school and in college made a big difference, too. By the time I entered rabbinical school, it was definitely the right thing for me to do.

While I was studying in rabbinical school, I asked myself a lot about what I wanted my rabbinate to be about. A little more than six months out, I’m not sure yet, but I can tell you this for sure: helping people develop a relationship with their tradition, to own it and be literate in it, to have access and confidence in exploring it are the cornerstones of the work that I have always done and will continue to do.

My family has always been really supportive. When I decided to go to rabbinical school, you can be sure, absolutely no one was surprised.

Left to right—Rabbi Marcus Rubinstein, Rabbi Marquise, Rabbi Adir Yolk and Rabbi Joshua Buchin

Left to right—Rabbi Marcus Rubinstein, Rabbi Markiz, Rabbi Adir Yolk and Rabbi Joshua Buchin

J.P.: There are a good number of ugly passages in the Torah in regards to women, land, fighting. I’m sure you’re asked about this every now and then, so how to justify a text that doesn’t always feel/read so holy?

J.M.: Yeah, this is a tough one. First of all, I don’t read the Torah as literally true, as one might read a history book. For me, Torah is not history. It is the story that the Jewish people tell themselves. I believe that the Torah is the result of various human beings’ encounters with the Divine and the transcription of those experiences into a narrative combined with our ancient Israelite narrative. As a result of those two things and my belief that God would not have us reject people for the way they were born, I try and find another way to understand those texts or put them in the historical context in which they were written. In either case, I don’t apply them. There isn’t a circumstance, for example, in which I can understand Torah to reject LGBTQ individuals. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

J.P.: I’m always slightly confused when I see these events where you’ll have a rabbi, a priest, an imam. They’ll all gather together to pray for something, yet you all have such completely different ideas of God and spirituality. You think they’re wrong, they think you’re wrong. So why do it?

J.M.: While there are certainly beliefs that Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others differ, there are many places in which we agree. Most importantly, I believe that most clergy people share the value of trying to make the world a better place. In the spaces in which we agree, we can make serious impact. I certainly don’t agree with everything my family believes, but that doesn’t prevent us from cooking a delicious dinner together. Often by working together we can make a greater impact than individually. This is the reason I personally look forward to when I can work with my fellow religious leaders.

J.P.: I’ve attended Bar and Bat Mitzvahs that feel like weddings. Cost $500,000, hired dancers, prize giveaways, half the people wasted, only a handful actually attend the service. And it makes me, truly, sick. How do you feel? How did this happen? And is it OK?

J.M.: I’m not a fan of that type of Bnei Mitzvah experience personally. To summarize, Bnei Mitzvah ceremonies were created nearly a century ago to celebrate a child’s entrance into communal obligation and as such bring the whole family into the synagogue. As many families have drifted away from synagogues, yet feel bound to this tradition, they shifted the celebration to the child instead of the community.

Now, I hardly wish to dictate how someone should live their lives. Instead, I’d offer an alternative experience in which our young person would learn how to access our tradition through a combination of learning skills and asking themselves self-reflective questions. From the point of their Bnei Mitzvah and onwards they would explore what being adult means, learning new life skills and engaging with real responsibilities. This could be a profound experience bridging the eight years before the graduation into legal adulthood. I bit of a grandiose image but something I believe would be deeply powerful.

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J.P.: What’s your take on anti-Semitism in America, 2016 version? Do you think it’s gotten better? Worse? Did some of the Donald Trump imagery bother you? Along those lines, can you—as a rabbi—speak out against a candidate in an election? Are you comfortable with that?

J.M.: I’m really scared by it, but I won’t let it deter me from fighting for what’s right. Standing up for those who are being attacked is more important now than ever, regardless if it is directed to Jews. I find the imagery that Donald Trump has employed to be terrifying, shameful, and entirely inappropriate. I will not accept it and will fight that type of speech every day that I need to.

As for rabbis who act and speak politically, this is a more complicated question. First of all, rabbis, much to the surprise of all, are in fact people with our own opinions. As such, we should being able to share those opinions. At the same time, we are leaders of people who are diverse in thought and political opinions who deserve to be respected.

Hate is never permissible and everyone should feel comfortable speaking out against it.

J.P.: I rarely go to services at my local Reconstructionist synagogue, mainly because while the rabbi is wonderful and the people nice, the services don’t inspire me. It’s the story of my life as a Jew—yawn, yawn, yawn. Why are we, as a people, not more Southern Baptist-ish in presentation? Why no gospel? No screams of joy? It all feels very stilted.

J.M.: Well, I think cultural background and milieu make a big difference. That being said, we Jews have lots of musical and joyous expressions. I’m a huge fan of Carlebach melodies for Kabbalat Shabbat which, in the right setting, can be quite raucous. I think that people are afraid of trying new things and feel strongly attached to “the way we’ve always done them.” For myself, I also need different types of prayer experiences at different times. Sometimes, I absolutely need the joyous, dancing type of prayer. Other times, I need the mumbling, non-musical type.

J.P.: What’s the challenge of consoling people after loss? How do you approach it, step by step?

J.M.: Everyone grieves differently. The only thing we can do is listen, to be present, and not pretend it isn’t happening. Really simple and really hard.

J.P.: How do you feel about Jews who put up a Christmas tree and hand out gifts on the morning of Dec. 25?

J.M.: People should do what they want. I’m not in a position to tell people what to do. For me, I’m very satisfied with my tradition and what it offers me. For my Christian friends, I happily wish them a merry Christmas and hope that they have the most wonderful holiday.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH RABBI JEREMY MARKIZ:

• Rank the songs (best to worst): Hava Nagila, Adon Olam, Hatikvah, Dayeinu, All I Want for Christmas is You: Adon OlamHatikvahDayeinuHava NagilaAll I Want for Christmas is You.

• Who wins in a 10-round boxing match between you and Flavor Flav? What’s the outcome?: I’ve got some years on Flavor Flav, so I say me, 6 to 4.

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Mike Pence, iced coffee, purple, Vlad Guerrero, Chuck D, Ventura Blvd, Seattle, purple yarmulkes, Shawn Green, your middle toe on your left foot, egg nog: Iced coffee, purple yarmulkesSeattle, Ventura BlvdMiddle toesChuck D, unfortunately I’m not a huge follower of baseball, a shonde, I know, so I’ll put those fine gentlemen here, eggnogMike Pence.

• In exactly 23 words, how do you feel about Avis?: Avis is a rental car company that I rarely even notice unless it shows up in a list of other rental companies, seriously.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Planes kind of freak me out, I know they’re safe and all, so I think this a lot. I usually think about my family and all of the things I’ve left undone.

• How confident are you in the story of Noah’s Ark? Likelihood it happened as told?: To me, Torah isn’t history, so I rarely think about it. I believe there was probably a huge flood, since it shows up in lots of ancient stories, but beyond that, I don’t worry about it too much.

Wife and I debate this all the time—is it OK to serve pork at a Bar Mitzvah or Jewish wedding if the people being celebrated aren’t kosher?: I wouldn’t want to get into a debate between you and your wife. That said, I’m not a huge fan.

• How many Nirvana songs can you name sans looking them up? List them here: LithiumSmells like Teen Spirit (Man, I’m so embarrassed by this).

• Why do you think donuts need holes in the middle? Seems like you’re taking away an extra bite: Yeah, but then you wouldn’t have donut holes. Bite size donuts? I don’t think I could give it up.

• Who wins the presidency in 2020?: Van Jones (if only)

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Dave Kindred

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So a couple of months ago I was driving home from Los Angeles when I began to play the latest episode of Seth Davis’ regularly fantastic podcast.

That week’s guest was Dave Kindred, the former Washington Post columnist and a man I both admired (as a scribe) and knew little about (as a human). To be honest, I figured it’d be a bunch of stories about the good ol’ days from a writer who chronicled some of the biggest moments in sports over the past half century. Instead, much of the episode was devoted to, well … um … eh … a high school girls basketball team in tiny Morton, Illinois.

This, I thought, is unexpected.

It turned more so. In his retirement from newspaper, Kindred has been covering girls prep hoops for … his Facebook page, as well as a local website. And here’s the beauty: He loves it. Like, loves loves loves it. Attends every game. Knows the girls and their parents. Has even written a pair of books about the Lady Potters. I was both mesmerized and dumbfounded, and decided, at that moment, the Quaz needed Dave Kindred.

So here he is. With stories of girls basketball, and Muhammad Ali, and Joe Theismann; with his take on the death of print and the thrill of capturing a moment.

One can follow Dave on Twitter here, and visit his Facebook page here.

Dave Kindred, you are the 298th Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So you’re The Man. Truly. A journalistic legend, an all-time great talent, someone I’ve admired for decades. And right now, as we speak, you’re covering—100 percent by choice—the Morton High School Lady Potters basketball team for a local website and on your Facebook page. Um … why? How? And does it bring you the same satisfaction, of, say, a World Series or big heavyweight fight?

DAVE KINDRED: To answer the easy question first: Yes, the satisfaction and the dismay are the same, all depending on how well I reported it and wrote it. It has been my blessing and curse that whatever I write, I try to make it better than the last thing I wrote—or at least the best thing I can write with the material at hand. The only real difference is the pay. Newspapers and magazines pay better than my Facebook page, though the Mortonladypotters.com website does pay with a box of Milk Duds occasionally … Morton, Illinois, is a small (pop. 16,670) west-central Illinois town next door to Peoria. After 45 years away, my wife, Cheryl, and I moved back in 2010. I went to a girls’ game because my sister had been a long-time babysitter for one of the players. I found out there was a team website. I asked the webmaster if I could write for him. He later said he sized me up as “some disheveled guy just coming out of the stands.” I told him, “You could Google me.”

I’m now in my seventh season. I’ve written over 200,000 words on the website and have done two books on the Lady Potters following back-to-back state-championship seasons. (You could order them from the website. Thanks.)  Why do I do it? Why does anyone work for no pay? It feels good. It feels right. It’s where I started, in little gyms around Illinois. It’s a game I love, basketball, and the Lady Potters play it with class, elegance, and grace. They’re now on a three-year run during which they’ve won the two state championships and 78 of 84 games. John Wooden liked women’s basketball. He said women can’t overcome mistakes with physical strength, and they only rarely can create their own shot. So they must master the fundamentals of ball-handling, defense, rebounding. For the same reasons, Draymond Green has said he likes watching the WNBA.

Here’s a thing, too—it feeds my reporting addiction. I don’t go to Lady Potters’ games for the “experience,” the spectacle, the hype that big-time sports sells. There are no cheerleaders, no halftime extravaganzas, nothing but four eight-minute quarters and you’re done. I go to watch a game and find a story. Stories are everywhere, you just have to pay attention. That’s what I’ve always done, whether it’s a Super Bowl or a World Series or an Ali fight—I ignore the hype and write what I’ve seen, what I’ve learned. I mean, if I go to a Broadway show, I want to go backstage afterwards to ask the actors why, why, why. After a Lady Potters game, I wait around with the parents on the court—pure Americana, pure heartland—and wait for the players to show up. I ask them why, why, why. Then I go home to the typing machine and try to earn my Milk Duds.

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J.P.: I’m gonna go totally random here, because it’s my Q&A and I can be as odd as I please. In 1987 you were the ghostwriter of Joe Theismann’s autobiography—the memorably titled, “Theismann.” I’ve never ghosted a book because A. You split the money; B. It seems pretty thankless. So what was the process like for you? Was it fantastic? Awful? Was Joe an interesting man? And how’s the book?

D.K.: In my time as a columnist at the Washington Post, Joe had been a reporter’s dream. He’d won a Super Bowl, he was counted as one of the game’s best quarterbacks, and he would talk all day on any subject. For all those reasons, I once proposed doing a book together. He passed on the idea—until Lawrence Taylor snapped his leg in two. From his hospital bed, Joe called me. “Dave, that book you wanted to do, I’ve got time now.” I wasn’t a “ghost” in that I was invisible. I’d call me an accomplice. My name was on the cover in small print, “With Dave Kindred.” But after “Theismann,” I never again aided and abetted in someone else’s literary crime. It was like studying to be an architect, then building a doghouse. Not to disparage Joe. He loved football and he was a quote machine. If you didn’t ask to interview him, he’d pick up your tape recorder and interview himself for you. My favorite moment in the book process came when I asked how, at Notre Dame, he passed for over 500 yards against  Southern Cal during a game-long rainstorm. How could he throw so well in the rain? He loved to talk about that game, a signature moment in his career. I was interested in the craft of that moment. Really, Joe, how did you do it? He began an explanation that got around to different finger pressures on different places on the ball. But when he couldn’t really explain the explanation, he gave up. He said, “Aw, that’s just bullshit. I have no idea.”

The book was as good as I could make it. It had some good stuff on George Allen, Joe Gibbs, Jack Kent Cooke, and John Riggins. The book’s publisher also wrangled a memorable blurb from John Madden. It’s on the back cover. In its entirety, the blurb goes, “Hey, not bad!”

Kindred, upper left, in his newspaper days in Louisville.

Kindred, upper left, in his newspaper days in Louisville.

J.P.: You’ve written a ton on Muhammad Ali over the years, including a book, “Sound and Fury,” about his relationship with Howard Cosell. This might be a quirky way of approaching the subject, but … do we at all overstate or overrate Ali’s greatness and meaning? I’m not referring to his boxing skills. I mean more along the lines of his late-life status as a holy, near-Gandhi-like figure …

D.K.: Ali was whatever you wanted or needed him to be. A sweet-hearted saint? OK. A crueler-than-hell sinner? OK. That’s no answer to your question, but it’s the best answer to the mystery of a man once reviled and finally, in his years of brain-damaged silence, revered. He was a follower, not a leader; he was a symbol, not an actor. He gave us reason to despise him and he gave us reason to love him. It was up to each of us to decide what we wanted him to represent. If we think of him as a great man of principle—for refusing the draft, for being willing to go to prison for his beliefs—we should also know that he didn’t refuse the draft so much on principle—he had no idea what that war was about—as he refused on orders from the leader of a racist cult/religion, Elijah Muhammad. That said, it is yet true that his refusal inspired thousands, if not millions, of protestors against that war. They didn’t care if he couldn’t find Vietnam on the globe or had never heard of dominoes falling in Asia or simply didn’t like the idea of getting shot. They cared only that the most famous man on earth stood with them at risk of his career and life. Ali’s resistance against the most powerful government in the world was no small thing, however it came to be. He gave courage to lots of folks, black and white, in lots of ways.

J.P.: Your professional career was spent largely at newspapers. Now newspapers are, print-wise, on the verge of death. I’m wondering how this makes you feel, and if you believe the business did anything wrong, or whether it was merely inevitable?

D.K.: I’m a newspaperman and proud of it. I once dedicated a book to my grandmother, Lena, who every Sunday in Lincoln, Illinois, sent me to the train station to pick up the three Chicago papers. l grew up with the inky smudges of newsprint on my fingers. A newspaper paid my way through college. I won a journalism scholarship with an essay about why I’d like to be a reporter. All I remember about the essay is that I said I was curious. I wanted to know things. After college, newspapers paid my way through life. For 50 years going onto 60, I couldn’t imagine starting a day without reading two or three newspapers. For one thing, I thought it was a citizen’s duty. How else do we know the difference between a Trump and a Clinton? But now the media landscape is so broad, with so many vehicles, that I rarely touch newsprint. I read the best newspapers online, and Twitter has become my daily index to news I might otherwise miss. I’m a dinosaur trying to stay alive.

In the "Hoosiers" gym, Knightstown, Indiana.

In the “Hoosiers” gym, Knightstown, Indiana.

 J.P.: You have a go-to line that has emerged as a favorite of mine: “If you pay attention, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.” First, do you truly believe this, or is it more like, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”—sorta kinda correct, but not fully? And, second, how had the approach and thought process impacted your career and your writing?

D.K.: The full line finishes … “and write about that.” Yes, absolutely, I believe it—not 90 percent of the time, not 95 percent, 100 percent of the time something will happen you’ve never seen before, you just have to have paid attention long enough at enough games to know what thing thing is. It doesn’t mean the thing has never happened, it’s just that you have never seen it before and now you have a chance to learn something and pass it along to readers with the enthusiasm that comes with discovery. Last season during a Monday Night game, Jon Gruden, who has seen more football than any of us, saw a punter make a helmet-to-helmet tackle and practically jumped out of the TV booth. “I’ve NEVER seen that before,” he said.

Some of the never-happened-before stuff is obvious. When Bob Knight throws a chair across the court, yeah, we’ve never seen that one. Some of it, you really have to be paying attention—and by “paying attention,” I don’t mean just watching closely, though that’s the foundation of it all. I also mean putting yourself in position to see things happen. One of the Lady Potters twisted an ankle badly the other night. The coach and an assistant CARRIED the girl, sedan-chair style, to the locker room; then her father CARRIED her, like the baby she once was, out of the locker room. I’d never seen that before. I wrote about it, I even took a picture of it. Here’s another one:

At Augusta three years ago, I told a buddy, Steve Hummer, “Let’s go out,” meaning out of the media building. (Red Smith’s advice to reporters: “Be there.”) Steve and I walked to a spot behind the second green. Louis Oosthuizen, from the top of a distant hill, hit a shot that flew forever, landed on the left side of the green, then turned toward the flagstick, rolling, rolling, the crowd’s noise rising as the ball rolled forever, always toward the hole—until it fell in. A double eagle. We started interviewing people. We hadn’t been waiting in the media building for news to be handed to us. We’d been paying attention and we saw news happen. We wrote about that.

J.P.: I’m of the belief that every longtime journalist has a money story. Meaning, you’re at a party, a bunch of people are gathered around—and you tell this gem. For me, it’s probably the whole John Rocker thing, which I’ve recited a solid, oh, 800 times. Dave, what’s your money story? The single weirdest or craziest or coolest thing to happen in your career?

D.K.: I once was in bed with Muhammad Ali. It’s the lead anecdote in my book, “Sound and Fury.” Amazon probably lets you read it for free. But one that I’ve not written? The night Bob Knight cuffed the Kentucky coach upside the head—then didn’t want to talk about it. It was December of 1974. Had it happened after ESPN’s creation, you’d have seen it on TV on a 24-hour loop. Knight’s first great team had Kentucky down by about 30 late. Suddenly, Knight is standing at mid-court with Kentucky’s Joe B. Hall. The game is flowing back and forth while the coaches are standing there. I see Knight drop his right hand behind Hall’s back. Then he brings it up swiftly, cuffing the back of Hall’s head, knocking him off balance. Knight drops the hand in front of Hall as if to shake hands. Hall refuses. Now we go to the press room after Indiana wins big. Maybe 30 reporters are there. People ask questions. I wait for the play-by-play reporters to ask their questions. I don’t care about the game. Finally, I raise my hand. I’ve known Knight a couple years by then. I know his combative, combustible personality, and I’m about to know it even better. “Coach,” I say, “what happened there with you and Joe?” Knight doesn’t answer. He looks around the room. “We’re here to talk about basketball. Anybody got a basketball question?” The dutiful press, sitting in little desk-arm chairs like 6th-graders, asks three or four basketball questions. I raise my hand again. “Coach, you and Coach Hall there at mid-court, what was going on?” Knight sees me, even hears me, but I am nothing he cares to acknowledge. “We’re here to talk about basketball,” he says. “Anybody got a basketball question?” Questions follow. Now I am more afraid, professionally, to not ask my question than I was to ask it in the first place.

Still, I ask some version of the question again, Knight ignores me again, until he turns those coal-black eyes my way and says, “Now, David, what did  you want to know?” I say, “Coach, 17,000 people saw you hit the other team’s coach. What happened between you and Coach Hall?” At which point, Knight gives some non-answer answer about how cuffing someone on the back of the head is a sign of respect and admiration, something he does to his players all the time. Well, OK, yeah. I leave and return to my typewriter where I’m writing a column until I look up and see a bear lumbering across the basketball court. A bear. That’s what Knight looked like back in the day. Big, strong, no shoulders. I turn to my neighbor in the press row and say, “This can’t be good.” Knight climbs up to my row and sits beside me. Then he says, “How do I get myself into these things?” I begin breathing again. He seems a touch remorseful. He seems a touch human. I ask him some questions, now doing a virtual live column, just dropping in his answers. And we got along well for the next 40 years.

J.P.: How did you go about writing columns? I’m talking soup to nuts here. You have a column due in two days. It’s, oh, baseball season. You would do … what?

D.K.: Let’s say the subject is PEDs and Cooperstown. I know what I think of Cooperstown, that it should represent the best of the best, those players who dominated play in their time. I long have discounted the “character” clause because that’s laughable, considering the men already inducted. From that baseline, I read what smart people have said about PEDs. I read histories of the game. I make phone calls to sages. A day of such work and review suggests a premise for the column. Let’s say the premise becomes “Who cares? They all did it.” The work provides lots of details supporting my premise and one or two details in opposition. Then the fun begins. You find a tone. Snarky, wise, comic, incredulous, whatever. And you write.

Dave with his sister, Sandy.

Dave with his sister, Sandy.

J.P.: How did this happen for you? I mean, when did you know you wanted to write? Hell, when did you know you could write? And do you think these things (writing skills) are natural gifts, or things one can acquire via work and reading?

D.K.: I was 17 when I wrote an English class theme for Miss Clarice Swinford saying I wanted to be a sportswriter. That decision came shortly after my father, then 47, challenged me to a race to first base. He won. Perhaps, I thought, I’m not going to be a big league baseball player; maybe I could be a big league baseball writer. The first time I understood what writing is, I was 13. Our seventh grade teacher, Miss Prior, read Jack London stories to us. I liked the sound of the words. I suppose I had a natural aptitude for writing, but I know I had to learn how to do it. I knew nothing about grammar, for instance, until I took Latin my freshman year in high school; Latin taught me English grammar. I have never stopped trying to learn. I’ve worn out a dozen copies of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style.” I read everything and I write all the time. I read good stuff, figure out why I like it, and then figure out how it can work for me.

J.P.: In a recent appearance on Seth Davis’ podcast you made it sound like you hated covering football and watching football. True? And why?

D.K.: I’ve written long enough to notice recurring themes in what I do. Boxing is cruel, so the columns feel like they’re soaked in blood. Baseball and golf are played on grass in the sun and under bright lights, so there’s poetry. Football, as George Carlin said, is war, it’s blitzes, it’s bombs. I prefer poetry to war, so I’d rather write golf than football. If we accept the truth revealed by autopsies—that football is a violent game killing brains—then how do we justify it as spectator sport?  Armored gladiators in Rome announced, “We who are about to die salute you.” Is that what we want?

J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?

D.K.: In the early ’70s, happy at the Louisville Courier-Journal, I told my wife we’d move only for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or the Washington Post. One day I walked into our kitchen and said, “The Washington Post called.” She said, “Oh, shit.” The day I sat in Ben Bradlee‘s office for a de facto “interview”—George Solomon did the hire—was, is, and will be the greatest moment of my career … The lowest? A day in June of 1991 when Frank Deford called to say The National was folding.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH DAVE KINDRED:

• I’m sorta obsessed with this song lately. Thoughts?: I’m a musical illiterate. I liked the girl.

• Rank in order (favorite to least)—Gary Witts, black cherry soda, Peter Criss, toast with jam, Jim Fregosi, George Will, scented candles, the fourth night of Chanukah, Earl Cox, Michelle Obama, Gregory Hines, the alphabet: Alphabet, Earl Cox, Michelle Obama, fourth night of Chanukah, Gregory Hines, toast with jam, Jim Fregosi, George Will, Garry Witts, Peter Criss, (tie) black cherry soda and scented candles.

• Ten most talented sports journalists of your lifetime: How about I name a bunch who were/are fun to read, influenced me, and became friends? Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon, Bill Heinz, Bob Lipsyte, Dan Jenkins, Sally Jenkins, Blackie Sherrod, Jim Murray, Shirley Povich, Larry Merchant, Jerry Izenberg, Joan Ryan, Frank Deford, Dick Schaap, John Feinstein, Mark KramPeter Richmond, Hugh McIlvanney, Tom Callahan, John Schulian, Jane Leavy, Furman Bisher, Dave Anderson, Tom Boswell, Charlie Pierce. I could go on.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Chargin’ Charlie Glotzbach, a big-time stock car driver, had his own plane. I once flew with him to Indianapolis. As we descended to Eagle Creek airfield, a small plane appeared directly beneath us, apparently aiming to land in the same pasture. “Charlie?” I said. He did something that made us go straight up. The ascent also caused a buzzer to go off.  A red light came on. Under the red light, the word “STALL.” I said, “Charlie?” He said, “We got 30 seconds.” So we went from going down to going straight up to leveling off and coming down again. Then came the really harrowing part: riding shotgun in a pickup to the race track at 75 miles per hour on blind-corner country roads. I never went anywhere with Charlie after that.

• One question you would ask Busta Rhymes were he here right now: Can you print out the lyrics for me?

• How did you meet your wife?: In high school. My sister made me date her. February 24, 2017, we’ll be married 55 years.

• Five greatest pure athletes you’ve ever witnessed live?: Ali, Michael Jordan, Griffey Jr., Carl Lewis, Secretariat.

• What are the three most overrated statistics in sports?: I want to waterboard the guy who invented WAR.

• You wrote for Sports on Earth. Why do you think it didn’t last?: I’m still trying to figure that out for The National.

• You have a brilliant mustache. What are the keys?: Stand in the shadows. That way it’s golden instead of white.

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Kayla Michaele

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I don’t believe in psychic powers.

I don’t think my late grandparents are available for chats.

I don’t think tomorrow’s news is available today.

I don’t believe Madonna was once a street sweeper, who was once Albert Einstein, who was once a caveman named Ugh.

I just don’t.

That being said, I try and maintain an open mind. And today’s magical 297th Quaz Q&A is legitimately convincing. Her name is Kayla Michaele, and she’s a practicing psychic who has devoted her life to assisting via divine guidance. Her stated mission? “To help people by connecting with their Spirit Guides and Angels and provide them useful information to help navigate this trip called life.” Today’s mission? To be a kickass Quaz.

One can visit Kayla’s website here, and follow her on Facebook here.

Prediction: You are about to read a fascinating Q&A …

JEFF PEARLMAN: OK, so Kayla, how did this happen? Like, at some point we’re all kids, putzing around, trying to figure things out. Did you have a singular moment where you realized you had a certain power? Was there, literally, an ah-ha event?

KAYLA MICHAELE: People ask me all the time, when did I know I was psychic? There wasn’t a real “ah ha” moment … but events that led up to an awakening. When I was a child I always seemed to know things about people. Like, were they telling the truth? What kind of mood they were in or sometimes if things were going to happen to them.

When I was in third grade I had a strong vision of a boy getting hurt. His name was Scottie and was in my grade. I saw him playing baseball and getting hurt. I not only saw it, I really felt it. My knuckles hurt and started turning red. I had a crush on this little boy so naturally I was thrilled that I would be able to be the one to come to his aid. I packed up some wet Kleenex and Band-Aids (like 30 of them) and set off to the playground. There wasn’t anyone there. I must have sat there for over an hour waiting for a baseball game and Scottie to magically appear. Finally I started home, crying from confusion and heartbreak. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t there. How could I have seen this in my head and felt the injury? It didn’t occur to me that this could be just my imagination. To me imagination and precognition were the same. That was Saturday. On Monday I went to school hoping that when I saw Scottie he wouldn’t know what foolish thing I had done (because I didn’t understand that not everyone knew what I did or couldn’t “pick up” on things/event like I could).

Anyway, I’m at my desk dreading that moment, when I looked up and saw him. I was elated … his right hand was all bandaged up. He had a baseball hit him squarely on the knuckles and his entire hand was bruised up. He had been injured like I saw, but it didn’t occur to me that it could have happened at a different ball park than the one near the school.

I kept this story to myself growing up because I learned quickly that if I did share what I knew I would be made fun of, ostracized or told that I was making the shit up. Gradually, I started ignoring what came to me. I would push it aside. That is when I started making some bad decisions in my life, because I ignored the signs and info about people in my life.

J.P.: On your website you write, “When I meet with a client, the first thing I do is ask Spirit how to best communicate with this person.” I don’t fully know what this means. Is Spirit an entity? God? Something within you? And how does Spirit respond to you?

K.M.: To answer the first part of your question on how to best communicate with each client …  some people are verbal, meaning they are the type who take instruction easier than being shown. Some people are visual, so I will either draw, doodle or pull some Tarot cards to better help put forth the information coming through. These are the ones you would need to teach by showing. Some people respond to music, so I will often get songs that will mean something to them. These are usually the ones you would need to teach by doing or having them practice … etc.

When I say Spirit, I use it as a catch-all. I get the information from several sources. When dealing with someone’s life situations I communicate with their Spirt Guides an Angels. This can only be done with the permission of the Soul of the person I am working with. If their Soul/Higher Self doesn’t want me to see something, I won’t. If I’m doing a Mediumship session (this is where I am connecting with someone who has passed over/died), then I am communication with that Soul/Person.

Now, not all psychics get their information the same way. Just as each client tends to communicate more verbally than visually, we are usually stronger or totally work in one aspect over another. For me, fortunately or unfortunately, I get it every which way so it can become a circus. What I mean is that I will get information by seeing, hearing and feeing it all at the same time. Sometimes I will get tastes or odors, but that is more rare and doesn’t really add much to a reading anyway. I know one psychic who sees the words spelled out, so she is literally reading the information.

J.P.: I feel like your job must come with some serious weight. I’m imagining you deal with people devastated by loss, by grief. Does that impact how you act … what you see? For example, if you get bad vibes from a distraught woman’s late husband, do you tell her so? What if you get nothing? Just—blank?

K.M.: Yeah, I’ve seen it all. I’ve had clients who want to speak with someone who thinks that they idiots. I had one man come to a public gallery event (that is where you are doing mini-spot readings with a group of people) and wanted me to connect with his dad who had passed away. So I connect with “Harry.” He shows me a large white grand piano in a living room and I hear what sounds like klezmer music but the notes were off. The client tells me that he, indeed, has a white grand piano in his living room and his father used to play it when he was alive. So I asked him, are you Jewish, because I kept hearing old Yiddish music, but it was out of tune.  He confirmed that he is Jewish and that his dad was terrible at playing.

As the reading continues he confirmed more information that I was getting; his father was one of three boys and was the last to die. His mother was still alive, but very Ill. His father had had a few careers—teacher, worked in a grocery store and had sold clothing. After all of this the man I’m reading says … ”Yes, yes this is all fine but I think that you are a fraud.”

“I’m sorry? What do you mean by that?” I asked.

He says that while I was correct in the information that I had given him he was still waiting to hear one thing. When his father was dying he asked him to say one thing and I hadn’t gotten it. It was at this point that Harry went behind him, looked at me and said one last thing. I didn’t know what to do. I told that client that he did say something, but it wasn’t very nice and that I wasn’t sure it was appropriate. The man got very angry and insisted that I say it.

Well, I said, “He thinks you’re a putz and said ‘Once a schmuck always a schmuck’ and that you were too cheap to tune the fucking piano.”

The man smiled and thanked me.

I tell you this story because you never know the story behind why people want to communicate with the dead. Sometimes they want to know how the person really died (murder cases or health cases where they don’t believe the doctors), they want to know that they made the right end-of-life decisions for the deceased.  Mostly people want to know that their loved ones are OK, happy and still exist.

I have had a murder case where I worked with a local sheriff’s department. I know that the case was solved but not sure if any of the info that I received helped in closing it, but I do know that the family has been able to move through their grief a little better.

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J.P.: Can you give me an example from your work? A story, a narrative—something that shows what you do, and what you can do for people?

K.M.: See above. Or …

First of all, other than the mediumship part of my work (by the way, all mediums are psychic, but not all psychics are mediums), most of what I do is confirm what people already know.  People have questions like, should I keep my job? Is my marriage going to work out? Etc. I will get information about what is going on in each situation, the perception or actions of the others involved and the best possible outcome. This is stuff people already know either intellectually or intuitively. But because it is coming from someone who isn’t privy to any of this information, then it can be taken as confirming. Who better to give unadulterated information than from a complete stranger who can see into what is going on?!

Here’s a story with a lovely ending: Several years ago a young woman about 25-years old came to me with her mother. Anyone could tell that she was very sad and afraid. Her question was would she have any children? The first thing I got was that she was currently pregnant. I also saw that this pregnancy was going to end tragically as had twice before. What the fuck was I going to say to this girl? This is when I have to remind myself that, as I teach my students, give what you get, but do so with grace and love in your heart. Here’s the conversation:

Me: Honey, you already know you are pregnant now, right?

G: Yes, but I haven’t told anyone (this is where her mother first hears of it)

Me: They tell me that you are asking the question because you have lost two other babies already? Is this correct?

G: Yes (she starts to cry)

Me: And you want to know if it’s going to happen with this pregnancy?

G: Yes (now mom is crying also)

Me: Oh honey, I’m not feeling that the outcome is going to be different this time either.

This is where more information starts coming in … so I take a moment to write it all down so that I can take my time giving it over to her and not miss anything.

Me: Spirit wants to talk to you about something that has to do with your marriage. Would you like me to continue?

G: (She nods her head)

Me: OK, this is what I heard. They say that they want to give you a nudge on something that you have an inkling on. They say that your husband isn’t totally on board with having children right now. He’s the type of man who wants everything to be in place and perfect before you start having kids. It’s almost like he wants to already be well into his career and in the house that you will be raising children. Also, he also still feels like a child himself. It’s not that he doesn’t feel up to the job or that he still has some living to do himself, he just needs to have everything complete so that he can give all of his attention and love to you and the children. This is a wonderful and loving man you have here, G. The problem is that he hasn’t told you any of this. He doesn’t want to step on your dream of having children before this happens. He loves you so much, but he feels like he is hiding something from you and this is why you have been feeling disconnected to him and that he isn’t as happy as you are during these pregnancies.

G: Yea, I get it. This is why I haven’t even told him yet. You, and now my mom, are the only people that know. I haven’t even been to the doctor yet. I’m only about seven weeks. So, you are saying that this pregnancy won’t go full term either?

Me: I’m sorry, but that is what they are making me feel. However, I do see the next one will go full term, but now without complications. They are telling me that there is something wrong with your womb. Something about the placenta growing or attaching in the wrong spot …

G: Yes that’s what happened before.

Me: I think that it may happen again, but for some reason it’ll work longer this time. So you may have a preemie situation here. Feels like a boy and it will turn out OK. Spirit says that you need to have a conversation with your hubby about his fears which are feeding, incorrectly, to your fears. They say that you will immediately become closer than ever, okay?

G: I promise. Thank you.

We spoke a little longer before they left. About six months later I received an email from her mother saying that she did lose that pregnancy but was pregnant again. She was very nervous that if this didn’t take that her daughter was going go into a deeper depression than she had the last three times. I emailed her back and said that Spirit reiterated the info that they had initially given and for her to stay positive. Spirit always has our highest good in mind when they relay information and that it was going to be okay. I found out later that she did indeed go into labor early 34 weeks and gave birth to a baby boy, who after a short stay in the hospital made it home healthy. Yeah!

So, what was I able to do?  With the help of Spirit, this young woman was given info that prepped her for a terrible and lovely outcome. They wanted her to not give up hope and they wanted to give her information about her relationship with her husband that, in essence, was hindering the birth process. What we do or chose not to do can and will effect situations in our lives.

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J.P.: Is someone born psychic, or do we all have the abilities and just don’t know it?

K.M.: We are all born with the ability. I hate when some people call themselves “natural born” psychics. It’s like they have to make other people feel inadequate or that they are somehow better than other psychics. We are all born with the ability, it’s just that some people can access it easier than others.  It’s like I tell my students … everyone can sing, we just aren’t all supposed to be starring in an opera

J.P.: Among your class listings is “Past lives and Reincarnation.” Which is pretty fascinating. Do you believe we were all other people before? If so, what was the first human? And what about the fact that there are more people walking the planet now than ever before? Is it even possible that we were all someone? Also, can we always figure out who the past person was? Or is it a bit of a crapshoot?

K.M.: OK, here I go. Yes, I do believe that are born time and time again. What was the first human? Not sure, not sure that I care or what kind of bearing it would have on someone. The question that you didn’t ask Is … why would we reincarnate?  Which needs to be explained before answering your other questions.

Our Souls chose to reincarnate simply so that they can experience all there is. They want to understand what it is to be the victim and the perpetrator, rich and poor, man and woman.  Every possible perspective of a situation or circumstance is desired so that it can become all encompassing. This is called Soul Development. In order to do this, the Soul needs to put itself into many lifetimes to play out different aspects and roles.

Who was the first person?  I dunno. That Soul probably doesn’t even incarnate anymore. I would suspect that it has achieved all that it would desire on this earth plain. At this point that Souls is closer to joining all that is (The Universal power … God).  Not sure … more than my little ape brain can comprehend.

We can see glimpses of past lives by doing a Past Life Regression. With the help of a Past Life Regressionist you can access some of your past lives. It’s very similar to being hypnotized. I’ve successfully gone through it a few times and it’s quite interesting and beneficial.

J.P.: How do you feel about your own mortality? Does it make you at all nervous? Death? Are you 100 percent convinced there’s something after this?

K.M.: I have no fear of death. To me being alive, here on earth, is more like a play that I am acting out. I truly believe that this isn’t real reality … back “home”/heaven is the real deal. Listen, I’ve been able to connect with those who have passed-over so I know that they still exist … somewhere and that is where I and everyone else will end up.

BTW I do not believe in hell … the whole concept bullshit.

J.P.: Let’s exclude you from this question. If I’m someone looking to have a reading done, what do I need to know in order to avoid cons, scams, quick money seekers? Is there a directory? A rating system? Are there tipoffs to bullshitters?

K.M.: Bullshitters:

• Will ask you leading questions …

• Will ask you for all of your personal info before doing a reading.

• Will tell you that you are cursed or that there is something attached to you and only they can remove it … for additional money, of course.

• Will tell you that you need to keep coming to them for many sessions.

• Will tell you that you are in danger… the Spirits are mad at you.

• Will tell you that your loved ones are stuck/Earthbound and only they can move them on …with additional money, of course.

• Will try and sell you potions or rituals to cure your bad luck.

If anyone tells you they are the only one who can help you and keep asking you for more and more money … run like hell!

There are directories out there, but really the only way to qualify a good psychic is either through word of mouth or meeting them and following your intuition. As far as rating systems there are some psychics who claim to be 99 percent or 100 percent accurate. This is bullshit, too. There is no way you can quantify that. I mean, you would have to get 100 percent feedback from all your clients on 100 percent of the information that you gave them. Impossible. Anyone who claims a percentage works purely through their ego and for their own gain.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH KAYLA MICHAELE:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Tammi Terrell, Echo Bodine, Edgar Allen Poe, Earl Weaver, 98 Degrees, crayons, swimming pools, whistling aloud, Dougall Fraser, Blockbuster Video: Crayons (64 box), Tammi Terrell (Gotta love a classic!), Edgar Allen Poe (“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”), Blockbuster Video (I still owe them, like $32 in late fees), Earl Weaver (RIP), swimming pools (Kiddy pee … really?), Echo Bodine, 98 Degrees (Boy bands? Maybe if I was still in a training bra), Douglas Fraser (Don’t know who that is … but can’t be as irritating as whistling aloud), whistling aloud (This is, thankfully, outlawed in some States).

• If you do a psychic reading and you see that someone is going to get hit by a car and die tomorrow, do you say, “You’re going to get hit by a car tomorrow—stay inside?”: Nope … I wouldn’t get that info in the first place. Even if I did—maybe they deserve it?!?

• One question you would ask Marvin Hagler were he here right now?: Can I kiss your boo boos?

• What color shirt am I wearing?: You’re wearing a shirt? Red?

• Five reasons one should make Minneapolis his/her next vacation destination?: Don’t! We love it here and we don’t want anyone to know how cool it really is. But if you have to, come for the fact that in sub-zero weather you walk the entire downtown area and never be outside.

• Would you rather lick the entire floor of a New York City subway or listen to Justin Bieber’s last album on an endless loop for six-straight months?: How about having Justin Bieber lick the floor of the New York City subway? That puke.

• Four all-time favorite movies?: Hair, Imitation of Life (1934 version with Claudette Colbert), Heavy Metal, Thin Man (“I’m hungry…let’s get a drink” Nick Charles).

• Without looking, how many Blind Melon songs can you name?: Um …

• I always thought Kevin made a huge mistake leaving the Backstreet Boys. Thoughts?: Again … boy bands.

• You look to be a person with unfairly thick and lovely hair. What’s the secret?: Drinking, swearing and a good colorist. And thank you!

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Jen Glantz

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A bunch of months ago I served as a groomsman in my sister-in-law’s wedding.

It was good stuff—lovely people, family, excellent food, killer band—and I walked away feeling … well … hmmm. How did I feel? Happy, certainly. Stuffed? Without a doubt. Hung over? A tad. But mainly exhausted. The whole thing was tiring, and that night I collapsed into bed and didn’t wake for another 12 hours.

The point: While weddings are terrific, they can also beat the crap out of a person.

Enter: Jen Glantz.

Today’s 296th Quaz Q&A is the world’s best (and first) professional bridesmaid, which means she specializes in making a woman’s wedding go as smoothly as possible. If you’re thinking, “Um, what the hell qualifies one to become a professional bridesmaid,” the answer is, among other things, compassion, devotion, empathy … and the experience of appearing in a shitload of wedding parties. That’s Jen’s calling card, and along with reading about her adventures in the Quaz, and on her website, you can purchase her debut book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire). (PS: Because it’s Valentine’s Day, check out her excellent blogpost on surviving the day).

Today, Jen breaks down wedding highs and lows, the best songs to play at an event and how she’s been able to cope with the breakup of Jordan Sparks and Jason Derulo.

One can follow Jen on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Jen Glantz, I’m proposing … that you’re No. 296.

JEFF PEARLMAN: OK, Jen, I’m gonna start with a question sorta unrelated to anything. I just watched a very touching video of you seeing your book for the first time. You take the viewer through the experience—envelope on your lap, ripping it open, etc. Euphoria, giddiness, etc. But I wonder—and this isn’t a criticism, but a serious question—why would you share such a personal, individual moment? It just seems like nowadays we feel compelled to share everything with everyone—and I’m probably as guilty as the next guy. Why do you think that is? Is it ego? Is it PR? Is it a mental adjustment to social media? Simply a need to connect?

JEN GLANTZ: I’m glad you asked. I have been waiting for the moment when I’d be able to hold a book with my name on it since I was probably 6. I was obsessed with going to the library, reading books, and writing my own mini-stories in the margins. At a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was the only thing I got excited about doing. When I was forced to play organized sports, like softball and basketball, the coaches would have to rip a book out of my hand and pep-talk me onto the field or the court. I share a lot on the internet, mostly funny stories and my most embarrassing mistakes, but this was the first time I shared such raw emotions, in a video, for complete strangers to watch. I did it as a way of explaining my story, my struggles, in hopes of inspiring others to never give up, even when it seems easier to just do that.

J.P.: You have a business, Bridesmaid for Hire, that seems really funky, really cool—and a little perplexing. So, as you write, “weddings can be stressful and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to provide decisiveness, problem solving and support in chaotic situations. I’m not here to replace your BFF’s, I’m here to make your wedding adventure stress free.” Jen, isn’t that what the bridesmaids are actually for? Isn’t that what they do?

J.G.: If you’re lucky—yes. But not everyone has friends who they can rely on or even friends who know what to do for you on your wedding day. Relationships are complicated and here you are, about to get married, asking your closest friends to stand by your side, spend a lot of money, and do a lot of tasks they may not have time or energy to do, and expecting it to go flawlessly. That’s mistake number one.

J.P.: Along those lines, can you explain—in as much detail as possible—why so many brides get so nutjob insane when it comes to the wedding? My wife was terrific—chill, calm, relaxed. So when I see women freaking out, yelling, snapping … I’m a bit perplexed. I mean, it’s just an event, no? And, along those lines, do you think people tend to build weddings up too much?

J.G.: Weddings have gotten out of control. A lot of that has to do with people trying to maintain traditions from years ago that have no meaning anymore and are heavy on their wallets. You don’t have to wear a white dress, walk down an aisle, even toss a bouquet. You do that because that’s what everyone else has done before you. I also blame this on social media. We see what everyone in the world is doing for their wedding and we want bigger, better, more like-worthy on Instagram. Because of that, people go bonkers when planning their wedding. They are throwing themselves the most expensive party of their lifetime. That’s a headache Advil can’t cure and your BFF’s don’t want to hear about on repeat.

J.P.: Serious question—do most people want to be in weddings? Because, if I’m being honest, I cringe when asked. It means time, it means money, it means events I don’t really want to attend. I know I sound like the world’s biggest dick … but does that make me unique? 

J.G.: I think they do, the first time. But after the second, third, fifteenth time, I think most people would prefer to be a guest. Being a part of the wedding party is expensive, takes a ton of time, and can be a very stressful process. Being a wedding guest, can still be expensive, but at least nobody will bother you when you spend 95% of the wedding at the open bar.

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J.P.: Gimme the craziest story from your career.

J.G.: Five minutes before the wedding is supposed to begin, the bride pulls me into an empty room, locks the door, and says: I hate the groom. I don’t want to get married. Meanwhile, she had 150 guests sitting in chairs waiting for her to take her first steps down the aisle.

J.P.: In December you wrote a great blog post on wedding toasts—and what to do and not to do. What’s the absolute, 100-percent awful disaster thing one can do while giving a toast? Like, if you were saying to someone, “Here’s exactly what your speech should not do …” what would you include?

J.G.: Use inside jokes. Remember, you are reading the speech in front of a group of people, not just one on one with the bride. If even 1/3 of your speech are memories and laugh out loud moments that will only have you and the bride laughing – you need to reconsider what you’re saying to include the whole audience.

J.P.: How should one handle the overly intrusive parent when it comes to the wedding? You know who I mean—1,000 opinions a second, wants it her way (and she’s paying), etc …

J.G.: You can fight the “It’s my wedding and I’ll do what I want” fight – but then the funds for the wedding should come from your pockets – and your fiance’s too. If you’re letting a parent pay for the wedding, they’ll feel like they can jump on the decision making bandwagon and then the headaches will occur.

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J.P.: Someone hires you. You know—100% know—this person should not be getting married. The guy is an abusive dick. Or she’s clearly immature. Or … whatever. How do you handle it? Would you ever say anything? Have you ever said anything?

J.G.: It’s not my place to question the love between two people – unless i’m asked. In that case, yes I will be honest. I’m no good at keeping my mouth shut.

J.P.: How did this happen for you? What I mean is, what’s your path—birth to now, as far as this career and this movement? Did you have a lightbulb moment?

J.G.: I always wanted to be a writer. I majored in English. Worked for a sorority as a consultant my first year out of college (plot twist #1), then I worked for a magazine as an assistant, followed by a job in PR, and then a job as a tech start-up copywriter. During this time, all of my friends got engaged. Not exaggerating. All of them. I was a bridesmaid more than half a dozen times when one night in particular, two of my “distant” friends asked me to be a bridesmaid. I went home and told my roommate and she said to me, “You’ve become a professional bridesmaid.” That’s when It hit me – maybe I could do this for complete strangers. Maybe I could be a bridesmaid for hire.

J.P.: You specialize in helping people chill. I’m asking this seriously—right now many of us are losing our shit over Donald Trump and all the stuff he’s about to fuck up. How should we chill? Should we?

J.G.: We have to stop taking every single thing so seriously. Really, we’re upping our blood pressure far too much. Don’t believe everything you read. Don’t spend every single second of the day reading your Facebook newsfeed either. Live your life because every second you’re not and you’re losing your cool, you’re wasting your own precious time.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH JEN GLANTZ:

Rank in order (favorite to least): potato sack races, Koy Detmer, Miami Dolphin helmets, Sussudio, Old Navy, Queen Elizabeth, Tosca, Tony Parker, South Dakota, Scott Baio, Crested Butte Music Festival: Old Navy, potato sack racesQueen Elizabeth, Miami Dolphin helmets, Crested Butte Music FestivalSussudio, South Dakota, ToscaKoy DetmerScott Baio

• Five all-time favorite wedding songs: Electric SlideShout!New York, New YorkCha Cha Slide (I love songs with pre-determined dances), The Wobble (Doing it as I type this)

• Awkward, but will you marry me?: Role reversal! Will you marry me?

• One question you would ask Will Smith were he here right now?: Do you believe in aliens?

• Tell me about the coolest wedding you’ve ever attended: They had a french fry bar—which may seem underwhelming, but what else would you want to eat at 11:30pm, after a couple of drinks, and too much dancing, than unlimited french fries? I guess pizza would have been a great option, too.

• Celine Dion calls. She wants to cast you in her new made-for-TV film: Celine Dion and the Dragon of Fire. You’ll be paid $5 million to play the dragon, but you have to live in Celine’s guest bedroom, wake every morning at 4 to bake her dog cookies and you have to wear the same T-shirt for the entire six months of shooting, one that reads, WESLEY WALKER IS MY SAVIOR. You in?: I’ve always wanted to play the dragon, so yes, of course I am in!

• Three memories from your first date: 1. We were supposed to meet at the movie theatre to see the movie “50 First Dates”; 2. We both got the location wrong and ended up at different movie theaters; 3. We called the whole date off.

• Describe your emotions when Jordin Sparks broke up with Jason DeruloPhew. 

• Are you comfortable with death as an ending? Why or why not?: We can hardly choose how or when our story ends. We can just write our living hearts out during the beginning and the middle—which is to say live like a freaking superhero and try to have little regrets.

• Five greatest wedding-related movies?: 1. My Best Friend’s Wedding; 2. Bridesmaids; 3. 27 Dresses; 4. Wedding Crashers; 5. The Wedding Singer.

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Regina Jackson

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Sometimes it feels as if we focus our attentions upon the wrong people.

We talk about Donald Trump and Tom Brady and Lady Gaga. We talk about Kim Kardashian and the Real Housewives and whoever’s getting a rose on The Bachelor. We talk about famous people and infamous people and infamously famous people. But when, if you think about it, do we talk about the truly good people?

Regina Jackson, today’s magical 295th Quaz Q&A, is truly good. As president of the East Oakland Youth Development Center, she devotes her life to empowering the young people of Oakland to seek out service-oriented careers. Which is a task that, truly, can’t be simplified into a couple of words. Regina is all about character building, confidence building, understanding (and teaching) what it takes to rise above. Her accomplishments are infinite, her energy boundless, her devotion to decency inspiring.

She’s no Trump or Gaga.

She’s 100 million times better.

Regina Jackson, you are today’s Quaz.

JEFF PEARLMAN: You are the president of the East Oakland Youth Development Center, which—to be brief—empowers thousands of youth to seek and succeed in service-oriented careers. But that’s a pretty limited description. So I ask, Regina, what are you trying to do?

REGINA JACKSON: We are trying to increase the odds of success for our youth by teaching them to dream, exposing them to a vision of something bigger than they have imagined, training them and putting them in positions to succeed (character-based leadership; work-based learning) and identifying a network of other students with whom they can achieve together with. We increase the odds through social and emotional support, giving them a strong platform of compassion and courtesy. EOYDC’s echo system is a like a bubble which protects them as they hone skills and work to achieve their own brand of success which includes a strong support for character, education, arts, wellness and career development.

J.P.: I recently watched a pretty riveting interview with Marshawn Lynch, where he discussed—with mixed emotions—the development of Oakland. At one point, while he was speaking, a yuppie-looking guy rode past on a Hoverboard, and you could hear Lynch sigh audibly. I totally get it—because too often “gentrification” is a synonym for “build overpriced housing and force everyone who can’t afford it out.” So how do you feel about Oakland’s growth, development? Thrilled, or cringing? Or both?

R.J.: The pain of our prosperity is choking the life out of our most vulnerable population. Families who have been her forever are having to leave their homes because the value of property is simply too high. There is no priority for helping the little guy, so much of the attraction of Oakland is lost on our success/ transition. The beauty of Oakland is its art galleries, small businesses and hometown feel. Unfortunately, these unique spots are packing up one by one because they cannot afford to stay and there are no supports for them to stay. We are losing what is so special about Oakland.

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J.P.: Can you tell me about Killer Corridor? The name? The place? And how does one combat a location with such a moniker?

R.J.: The Killer Corridor is an area where the highest rate of homicide is centered. It is located in deep East Oakland and EOYDC is smack dab in the middle of this area. We combat primarily with prevention-based programs. Much of the killing is kind of Hatfield and McCoy. Someone from one camp kills another and then there is payback and so on. We must teach children that they have something to live for. That way they are not so willing to just “smoke” someone.

J.P.: What’s the greatest success story from your career in public service?

R.J.: The success stories keep coming, but I guess the greatest thus far is Lanikque. She was the eldest of her siblings. When she graduated from high school she was the first in her entire family—ahead of Mom, etc. She had little exposure during high school; never having slept away from home, gone to the mountains, college campuses. We trained, exposed, encouraged her. She applied for 107 scholarships and received 37. She wanted to be a pediatrician. She attended UC-Berkeley and completed on time.

We encouraged her to study abroad. During that study she decided to get a PhD in social welfare instead. She wanted to change the system that supports children and families—especially those with mental illness. She was accepted to all the schools she applied to. She left the University of Wisconsin after two years to join the Obama Administration in the Office of Children and Families. She was named to the President Political Appointee Leadership Program. She has now returned to her PhD program and will finish in two years. She is 27-years old.

J.P.: What’s the greatest tragedy from your career in public service?

R.J.: There are many. But I think the greatest tragedy is the failure of our public education system to truly educate. Based upon our students’ academic achievement or lack thereof (we try to teach technology and then realize that our kids don’t know the alphabet), we totally shifted programming to lift education as a support program after school. We partner with schools and families to teach character, leadership and encourage literacy, math, technology, etc, We provide support, homework assistance, literacy in our after-school leadership program. We are piloting a new literacy and social and emotional learning program for our middle school students because of their inability to  get through high school without strong skills (there is also a spike in middle school dropout and suicide rates). We have intensive support for our pathway-to-college students, which includes college tours, scholarship and college mentoring support. We have a 100 percent college admission rate with an 86 percent graduation rate within four years. We have had GED or high school equivalency programing from the beginning—the dropout rate has been consistently high in the neighborhoods we serve. Approximately 50 percent of our GED graduates go on to junior college and the other half go straight to the workforce.

J.P.: A mutual friend wrote this about you: “She could totally be working at the White House. Instead she works on a strip called ‘Killer Corridor’ saving kids.” So, Regina, why do this? The money can’t be great. There’s minimal fame, ego boost, etc. So … why?

R.J.: I appreciate the compliment. I guess its because I come from a service-oriented family. Dad created the first race relations program for the United States Armed Forces. Mom was a social worker and worked in prisons before going to law school. She recently retired as a deputy city attorney.

My passion is to help youth succeed. I found my purpose early in my career. I had previously worked in areas where what you did did not show impact. Now I see impact every day. I see how what i do impacts families in a positive way. There is no greater feeling than pursuing your passion. No amount of money can replace that ” feel good.” I am affirmed through giving, by my kids and families.

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J.P.: One often hears politicians say, in some form, “Everyone in America has a fair shot”—then defend the end of Affirmative Action, of social programs, etc. You once said, ““I’ve had kids who were pulled out of their homes [by child protective services] and put in temporary shelters. They are being raised by grandmothers and aunties, by alcoholics and guardians with significant challenges, economic and otherwise. These are children who, by and large, haven’t done anything wrong.” So how do we balance these two views? Does America give everyone a shot? Is that total nonsense?

R.J.: Unfortunately, America does not give everyone a fair shot. It is easier now (seeing the way that President Obama’s power was compromised) to see that most systems are not designed to support the least of these/have nots. There are different rules for different people and rarely does anyone look out for the little guy. I work hard for the underdog because the odds are stacked against them, but when given a real chance for success they often achieve in extraordinary ways. They understand the importance of emotional intelligence and compassion—because they have needed it so much in their lives. When i think about our Hiset students (high school equivalency; the program is called Education Empowerment), they struggle to return to a system that failed them. They have so many challenges and they knock them down one by one. When they finally participate in our cap and gown ceremony, they are so proud of themselves for having accomplished often without family support. They begin to be fearless about other challenges and it is the most empowering thing to watch. A fighter spirit!

J.P.: I’m going to throw a very random one your way. Yesterday I attended the funeral of my wife’s aunt, and now I can’t stop picturing her in a coffin beneath the earth. And I am terrified—absolutely terrified—of death; of eternal nothingness; of not existing. How do you feel about it? About the inevitability?

R.J.: I have buried more children than I care to count. After a while I stopped going to funerals—they depleted me so that I felt I had to reserve and preserve energy for those who were among the living. I know that there is a circle of life. I don’t think about death because I am too busy living my best life. I prefer to be in the now. I have a cup-half-full type of perspective—always hopeful. I am Catholic so we believe in the afterlife. But I still believe that I should live my legacy

J.P.: How are you able to keep going after the death of a child?

R.J.: It stops you in your tracks. You must take time to mourn, but because our kids see far too much death and lose too many friends, I force myself to be in a positive space. I push them past depression and grief with positive thoughts of their friends and the strength of their memories. I tell them that now they must succeed for the both of them. Through counseling, journaling and creating positive circles of support you hope to encourage people to want to live.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH REGINA JACKSON:

• Five reasons one should make Oakland his/her next vacation destination?: 1. Fantastic sunsets; 2. Great food; 3. Kind people; 4. Outstanding places of interest; 5. Powerful History

• Celine Dion calls. She wants to donate money to the cause. She’ll give $10 million, but you have to change your name to Morris Chestnut and get a tattoo of Gary Coleman across your forehead. You in?: Absolutely not.

• Five greatest singers of your lifetime?: Phyllis Hyman, Minnie Riperton, Michael Jackson, Regina Belle, Stevie Wonder.

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Ohio State University, Mario Lemieux, Kim Fields, Fiddler on the Roof, San Diego Zoo, Meg Ryan, church on Sunday, Fox News, Kyrie Irving, Little Shop of Horrors: San Diego Zoo, church on Sunday, Fiddler on the Roof, Ohio State University, Kim Fields, Meg Ryan, Mario Lemieux, Kyrie Irving, Little Shop of Horrors, Fox News.

• What’s your hidden talent?: I sing.

• One question you would ask Phil Donahue were he here right now?: Was never much of a talk show fan. Maybe, Why did you do “The men are cheaters” shows?

• In exactly 19 words, make a case for the music of Sheryl Crow: Her legacy is an ongoing storytelling version of lovely country music with depth, insight, compassion, warmth, love and soul.

• This is a song I absolutely love. Wondering what you think: I am not a big fan of rap. I think that Tupac was prophetic and poetic. I do like the Elton John mix. The song is definitely creative.

• Why didn’t you take a more of a public stance back when the Yankees acquired Ike Davis to play first base?: Huh?

• Who was your favorite Eight is Enough kid? Why?: Willie Aames. He was my age at the time. Don’t remember much of the storylines.

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Ann Killion

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There’s obviously debate to be had over stuff like this, but for my money Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle is America’s best sports columnist.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying she’s America’s best female sports columnist. Or America’s best daily newspaper columnist. Or America’s best Bay Area-based sports columnist. Nope. If I needed a column written, and it had to be top-shelf, I’d turn first to Ann.

Why? Because she’s fearless. Because she’s fast. Because she’s quick with a phrase and original with thoughts. I had the chance to read a ton of her work while researching and writing a Barry Bonds biography, and I always re-folded the paper feeling smarter and better informed (as well as a bit jealous of her talent). Having been raised in Mill Valley, she’s the rare sports columnist able to write about the teams she grew up watching and rooting for. That, without questions, adds a level of depth and understanding.

Anyhow, Ann Killion is here today as the magical 294th Quaz Q&A, which means a huge helping of San Francisco sports, as well as an explanation of what women often face to make it in the biz.

One can follow Ann on Twitter here, and read her work here.

Ann Killion, you are the Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Ann, I’m gonna start with something I like asking people who’ve worked in sports media in the Bay Area. Namely, how would you describe your experiences with Barry Bonds? Did you feel like you had him figured out? Understood? Why do you think he was so moody and ornery? Was it an act? A mechanism? Real?

ANN KILLION: I always found Bonds fascinating. People think everyone in our business hates him because he was such a dick to deal with. But I didn’t hate him—I loved observing him because he was really strange. Someone who was such a phenomenal athlete yet so awkward in social interactions. No, I don’t think I had him figured out. As you know there are a lot of layers to his personality: he grew up a prince, with a star baseball player for a father who was also an alcoholic. He liked having his own kids around but then seemed to mistreat them in the most public situations. I think he didn’t know how to have real friends or how to be a really good teammate, yet at times he could show flashes of humanity. Adrian Wojnarowski recently told me that the only time he saw Bonds be human was when he asked me how I was when I was pregnant. At times he could be almost charming. I think “mechanism” is a good word – his act or behavior was his way of getting through life as Barry Bonds. I think he thought he needed to act that way. I imagine it would be easier to just be a normal guy. But I don’t think Barry ever learned how to be a “normal guy.”

J.P.: You’re the rare person who gets to become a media star in an area where she/he grew up. And I wonder—how does that impact your work? Having the local background? Growing up with the sports scene?

A.K.: I don’t know about being a “media star” but I do know that being a native, growing up with these teams, informs everything I do. I know their history and the arc of their storylines, so I know when owners are full of B.S. and when teams don’t reflect the community. The Bay Area is an interesting place. We don’t have much time for teams that are incompetent. While fans’ loyalty runs deep, they don’t suffer fools gladly.

With John Reid.

With John Reid.

J.P.: We all heard so much about Colin Kaepernick this past year, yet few of us have ever dealt with him. So, Ann, who is this guy? I don’t mean biographically—I mean, is he a deep thinker? A leader? Was the whole kneeling thing an intentional movement? An accidental happenstance? Is he admirable? Deplorable? Do you like him?

A.K.: Kap is an interesting guy. When I first met him, he was at Nevada, very shy but smart and well-spoken. After he was drafted I spent an hour with him during the NFL lockout and he was the same way. Then, when he became the starter, he totally changed and was rude and a total jerk. He was channeling Harbaugh’s way of behaving and also I believe felt burned by things like the media looking into his adoption. He was not a leader at the time – in fact a lot of the team didn’t like him (there were some internal issues). But everyone evolves on their own schedule and I think he grew up. He felt burned by the organization, which leaked a lot of unflattering things about him. He realized he wasn’t doing himself any favors by alienating the media. And he got political. I support his right to protest, which was a very intentional act. However, he lost me when he said he didn’t vote, because there were so many things on the California ballot that were directly applicable to BLM issues. But I think he did get people talking, including inside his own locker room. At the end of the season, his teammates voted him the highest internal award a player can get, the Len Eshmont award, which is proof he didn’t divide the locker room. I don’t know if history will view him as a footnote or possibly as the start of a new phase for athlete activism.

J.P.: So I know you attended Tamalpais High, know you were the sports editor of the Tam News, know you went to UCLA and Columbia. But how and why did this happen to you? Was there a moment when you knew, “Yes, this is what I want to do!”? Was there a moment when you knew you were genuinely good at it?

A.K.: Well, it certainly wasn’t when I was in high school. I was the sports editor because no one else really wanted to do it. I went to UCLA thinking I would try to get into the film school, though I never applied. After graduation I worked in PR, and one of our clients sponsored a sporting event where I met a lot of sports journalists and they seemed a) cool and b) like they really, really loved their job. While I was at Columbia I decided to pursue sports writing, and ended up with an internship at the Los Angeles Times. It was probably during that time, in San Diego, that I said “Yes! This is what I want to do.” I covered Tony Gwynn, Larry Bowa yelled at me, some male reporters were really mean to me, but I loved the writing, the press box, the chance to be in a different place every day and tell interesting stories. Really, it’s one of the greatest careers you could have.

J.P.: In 2012 you co-authored Hope Solo’s autobiography. From afar I find her terribly unlikable. What am I missing? Or not missing? And what was that process like for you?

A.K.: No matter what you feel about her, nobody could deny that Hope is a fascinating, controversial person who is worthy of attention. That’s what attracted me to the project and as we worked together I really came to like her. I got exasperated by her at times, but I think she really has a good heart and has put up so many walls because of her difficult background (read the book!). That defensiveness comes across in her public demeanor, which people find off-putting. She’s very much an introvert and somewhat uncomfortable in the public eye. And if someone tells her to do something, she’ll likely do the opposite, which is why you don’t hear a lot of public backtracking or p.c. comments from her. She is strong and defiant and controversial and I love that women’s sports has room for someone like her and not just the girls you want to have as your BFF.

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J.P.: I’m gonna take a question I was going to ask you, and then twist it. I was going to ask you something about being a female sports writer in 2017. But, instead, I’m going to ask you about asking you about being a female sportswriter. Because the subject comes up in EVERY interview I found with you. So, Ann, do you get sick of the question? Is it at all tiring sometimes being thought of as “a female sportswriter,” as opposed to, simply, “a sportswriter”?

A.K.: There are still very few of us in the business, so I understand why I get asked about my experience and I know that I have a responsibility to be a role model to other young women and to hold the door open for others to follow, so I don’t really mind being labeled a “Female sportswriter.” I’ve won awards, like California Sportswriter of the Year, and they’re not qualified by gender, so I like that. I try to keep it real though—for example, there has been a lot of focus on how we as female sportswriters get trolled on the internet. And while it’s true, I have good friends in the business who are black or Asian or Jewish and they get trolled too. I try not to look at everything through the female lens. But, like being a Bay Area native, it gives me a different perspective on things, and makes some issues more important to me.

J.P.: You have the ability to be absolutely blistering with your words. For example: “Trent Baalke confirmed that he is out as the 49ers’ general manager after seven years. The calendar said that Sunday was a fresh new year, but the atmosphere at Levi’s Stadium felt like the same old stale garbage.” And I wonder, Ann, what sort of awkwardness/discomfort does that lead to? For example, you’re going to run into Jed York 1,000 times. And he knows you find him incompetent and bumbling. So … how does that go? Will it be awkward/weird? Is it simply business, and all sides understand?

A.K.: It’s business. I’m not trying to be friends with the people I cover and I try to write the truth. York has run the 49ers into the ground in the past couple of years with some really insane decisions. I get yelled at sometimes by the people I cover and I’m sure a lot of them hate me, but I try to be fair. Again, I’ve watched the 49ers do business for a long, long time so my opinion is very informed. When you do something smart—like hiring Jim Harbaugh—I give you credit. When you do something dumb—like fire him without a better replacement and then keep impounding the mistake—I criticize. Al Davis used to get mad at me all the time, though we could have a conversation after. I ran into Jed the other day at an event and we were cordial (and I actually gave him credit in print for financially supporting the place we were—the opening of the San Jose State Institute on Sport and Social Change).

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J.P.: What’s your basic process? When do you decide what you’re going to write? How does it come to you? Are you a verbal mumbler? Do you go through 1,000 ledes? Do you love most of what you write? Hate most of what you write?

A.K.: Argh. The process. Are any of us comfortable with it? I’m a daily (4xaweek) columnist so I don’t have a lot of chin-stroking time. I react to the days’ news and try to think ahead for a day that’s likely not going to be busy with news. In our market, with seven pro teams and major college programs there’s always something happening, so I don’t get a lot of time to ponder the bigger vision, though I do like to keep working on a feature or big-issue project. No, I do not go through 1,000 ledes. I am a very fast writer. I usually go with my first instinct unless I get a few paragraphs in and realize I just wrote my lede. I am not someone who hates what I writes (though I would hate to read it aloud, which bums out my mother who has lost a lot of her eyesight). Sometimes I do and am loathe to reread it. But I am very honest in my writing and with my opinion so I’m usually very comfortable going back and reading what I wrote. I don’t always love it but I usually agree with my opinion. And when I’ve been wrong, I admit it.

J.P.: I feel like we all have a money story from the business. I mean, that experience that makes a good party tale for the next 30 years. Mine is probably John Rocker. Tell us yours, Ann …

A.K.: Oh, mine is probably when Charles Haley harassed me in the locker room. I was new on the 49ers beat and they were two-time defending Super Bowl champions and Haley, who had held out of training camp, saw me as a new victim. He followed me around the locker room, without any clothes on, basically masturbating behind my back and saying, “Is this why you’re here.” I tried to do my job but basically went outside so I wouldn’t cry in front of the other players. Keena Turner came out and was nice to me. There was only a PR intern in the locker room and he didn’t do anything. That happened to be the same week that Lisa Olson got harassed in New England. Two different outcomes. That made headline news, I basically went under cover. George Seifert reportedly was livid at Haley and asked him to apologize and so the next time I saw him, he came up and apologized and shook my hand and that was kind of the end of it. I had a decent relationship with him after that. As you know, he was pretty crazy and hassled everyone—reporters, teammates, coaches. The other thing I remember about that day was that I was a newlywed and I went home and took a pregnancy test and it was positive so I always blamed hormones for my inability to control my tears.  Now, after all these years in the business, I would be way more vocal and angry about such treatment but I was just a kid.

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J.P.: This is sorta random, but I just showed my kids the film “Moneyball”—and, Ann, I just can’t enjoy it. Like you, I was around the A’s a lot back then. And the non-mentions of, oh, THREE phenomenal aces, two MVP candidates (Tejada and Chavez), one of baseball’s top closers (Billy Koch). It just feels really contrived and simple. So what do you think of the film? And of the whole Moneyball phenomenon?

A.K.: I loved that movie. It was totally phony to what I witnessed with the A’s but I thought it was a good baseball movie and pretty interesting and I thought it was one of Brad Pitt’s best performances. Of course, I objected to the distortion of reality and particularly the way Art Howe was portrayed—one of the nicest men I’ve ever dealt with. I have always thought the Moneyball phenomenon was overrated. Yes analytics are a useful tool, but they’re just one tool. It was fascinating to watch the way more old-school Giants (who do use analytics) win three world titles, basically doing it the old-fashioned way, while the A’s have never had sustained success.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH ANN KILLION:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Reggie Sanders, Jessie J, surfing, coconuts, Chris Rock, “The Wedding Singer,” sneezing, Cape Cod, Geno Smith, the name Fred, pink roses, Wrigley Field, Ellis Valentine: Surfing, Fred, pink roses, Cape Cod, Wrigley Field, Chris Rock, Reggie Sanders, Ellis Valentine, coconuts, Jessie J, sneezing, The Wedding Singer, Geno Smith

• One question you would ask Marie Osmond were she here right now: Why didn’t you sing at the inauguration?

• In exactly 20 words, make the case for/against Snapchat: The case against Snapchat: something new will replace it before I have ever even figured out how to use it.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Naw. Just bad turbulence. I never really thought I was about to die.

• Is Rickey Henderson really weird or really normal disguised as really weird?: Really weird, incredibly talented and usually quite amusing.

• Who are the five all-time nicest athletes you’ve dealt with?: Steve Young, Steph Curry, Brandon Crawford, Candice Wiggins, Frank Gore.

• What are your three most overused words?: Totally, uh, douchebag

• Who wins in a 12-round boxing match between you and Dionne Warwick? What’s the outcome?: Probably me since she’s 76.

• Three memories from your senior prom: Champagne, partying in a hotel room, going home with someone other than my date.

• What’s the most terrified you’ve ever been?: Right now, looking at my country.

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Nick Turturro

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Unless you’ve spent the past 2 1/2 decades avoiding television and cinema at all costs, it’s all but impossible to say Nick Turturro has never crossed your ocular path.

I could list every project the native New Yorker has worked on, but that would take up about 17 pages. So I’ll just list a few: “NYPD Blue,” “Jungle Fever,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Malcolm X,” “Freefall: Flight 174,” “The Longest Yard.” Even if you don’t recognize Nick by name, you’d certainly know his voice, his laugh, his face, his mannerisms (you’d also know his brother, John Turturro).

Anyhow, today Nick joins the Quaz ranks by answering myriad questions about Hollywood, Spike, stewardess wives and the 986,543 Yankee games he’s somehow attended.

One can follow Nick on Twitter here, and visit his IMDB page here.

Nick Turturro, fuck the Oscars. You’re Quaz No. 293.

JEFF PEARLMAN: Nick, you seem like a guy who gets quirky and weird, which A. Makes you a perfect Quaz; B. Allows me to lead with this question: In 2000 you played Detective Tony Nenonen in the straight-to-video film, “Hellraiser: Inferno.” And I want to ask two things about this: A. Having been in many truly great films and TV shows, do you approach something like “Hellraiser: Inferno” with the same intensity, determination, doggedness as, say, “Mo’ Better Blues” or “Malcom X”? And, B. does a film going straight to video hurt? Sting? Or not particularly matter?

NICK TURTURRO: As far playing a role like Tony Nenonen in “Helllraiser,” I approached it with my best effort. But I would  be lying if I told you that it has the same juice as other movies I did. For example, films like “Jungle Fever” or the independent gem “Federal Hill” or early “NYPD Blue,” which was a game-changer, I mean, I try to never phone it in, because you never know who’s watching. I mean, it’s who you’re working with—the script, the director or maybe an actor you have great chemistry with. I can’t explain it fully. Sometimes you can have something special with someone, sort of like I had with David Caruso.

J.P.: Spike Lee is my all-time favorite, which—by extension and practice—makes you one of my all-time favorites. So how did your relationship with Spike begin? What is he like to work for? What do you think he sees and grasps and understands that many in the business do not?

N.T.: Well, Spike Lee gave me my chance in showbiz and jump started the whole dream for me. He had a really good idea for raw talent and encouraged a lot young talented actors—like Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, Sam Jackson—to pursue this. I think what he saw in people was the passion of young performers. He was very quick to encourage you and to let you improvise. He gave you time to rehearse and even let you watch dailies—which was very exciting and unheard-of in the business. I was discovered by him to do voice-overs for “Do the Right Thing”—he made me scream racist comments for, like, two or three hours and the next thing I know he was so impressed with my energy that he hired to be in “Mo Better Blues” with my brother when I was still a doorman at the St. Moritz, a New York City hotel on Park Avenue. It was a very exciting time.

Nick, right, with John in "Mo Better Blues."

Nick, right, with John in “Mo Better Blues.”

J.P.: You’re like a Manning, only in acting. Your brother John has had this amazing career, you’ve had this amazing career, your brother Ralph is an actor your cousin Aida is an actress. How did this happen? Is there any level of coincidence? Is it something in the blood?

N.T.: As far my family, my brother John was a great mentor and was also a very cerebral guy. I, on the other hand, was probably more of a natural at things. We came from a family that wasn’t in show business, but was filled  with bigger-than-life characters. My father and my uncles were so naturally charismatic. Watching them was like watching love theater, and that was probably the best training I ever had. You had to see these people in action. They were intense, volatile, funny and, at times, scary. I mean, my father was like my best friend, but on the construction job site he was a fanatic.

Anyhow, you had these Turturros in action, and they were funny as hell. I think that spurred artistic creativity in all of us.

J.P.: You’re almost 54. For women, acting gigs become harder and harder to land with age. But what about men? Do you find it more difficult to navigate, manage, excel as you get older? Do parts at all dry up, or do they just change? And how does aging change your skill set as an actor?

N.T.: I would certainly agree that as you get older it becomes harder. The parts just become more limiting, and—unless you’ve had a career like John, where you’re so versatile–you get typecast. I think it’s even more difficult for women. I believe, in this business, you need to reinvent yourself at times. The business doesn’t always care about your body of work or what you’ve done. Because it’s all about being young and pretty. That aggravates me.

J.P.: I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but as a New Yorker I was sorta conflicted when a couple of 9.11-related movies came out in the years following the attack. You were in one of them, “World Trade Center,” in 2006. You’re also a New Yorker. Were there any conflicts? Emotions? Did you debate whether to do it? And were you OK with the finished product?

N.T.: The World Trade movie was a very weird experience for me as New Yorker. I had been down by the Jersey Shore when it happened and I was supposed to fly back that week. It was probably the most the surreal thing I ever felt—being there on my home soil.

That movie was a strange experience. My mother had passed away and Oliver Stone was a bit of a bully as a director. I just didn’t feel like it was authentic enough to me and I guess you can’t just recreate something that horrific. Which, again, I lived through. It was a really strange time. I remember driving cross country and some crazy lady in Walmart thought me and my wife’s cousin were terrorists.

J.P.: I consider “Jungle Fever” to be one of the great underrated films of the past 30 years. What do you remember from the experience? How did you land it? What was it like? Is it at all offputting or difficult playing a character who, in real life, you’d abhor?

N.T.: “Jungle Fever” was a role that really convinced me I could do this acting thing for a living. Why? Because I was so hungry and focused, even my brother John was impressed. When I look back at some of those days I actually wonder how I was able to do that, and question where, exactly, was my frame of mind. It’s fascinating—and really hard—to get that edge back.

J.P.: Totally random, weird and dated question, but you were a longtime cast member of the amazing, “NYPD Blue.” I remember when Jimmy Smits left and Rick Schroeder arrived, and it was this HUGE thing in public. Like, can the show last? Will it survive? Did you feel that, too? Was it an easy transition? As an actor, does it even matter? Like, do you just show up and work, co-workers be damned?

N.T.: When Jimmy Smits died on “NYPD Blue” it was very emotional because with TV series you spend years together and become like a family. You spend way more time together than when you work on a movie. And Jimmy was great quiet leader who I loved. He gave me some amazing advice. He was a very sweet man; a very giving man. I have nothing bad to say about Rock Schroeder. He was a great guy and we actually liked each other. But the dynamics for the show started to change. The show was, to me, never the same after Jimmy was done.

From the glorious NYPD days.

From the glorious NYPD days.

J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?

N.T.: The greatest moment of my career was when I was nominated for an Emmy after the first season of “NYPD Blue.” I was so shocked and excited—my mother called and told me, “Nicholas, you were nominated for an Emmy!” I went to ger house in the Rosedale section of Queens, and Entertainment Tonight came on. It was amazing.

The lowest? I wrote a pilot for CBS that was called “Nicky Life.” This was after “NYPD Blue” and I co-wrote it. Vic Levin gave me a chance to write the pilot. They picked it up to shoot, but the process was so stressful and draining; it got watered down, and in the end they said it was “cute.” That’s a bad word. I wound up physically ill with pneumonia, and I also suffered major depression. That entire experience really spoke to the highs and lows of show business.

J.P.: Have you ever had to promote a film that you know, deep down, sucks? And what does that feel like? Is it just an accepted part of the gig?

N.T.: I mean, I won’t name them but I have been in few stinkers. I still worked hard on them, but they were disasters for various reasons. It usually comes down to material. No matter how hard you try to save the project, you can’t. It’s a helpless feeling. But, in the long run, you learn from the bas movies, just as you learn from the new. It’s incredibly hard to move a movie—even a bad one.

J.P.: You’re in the process of writing a book about your 40 years as a die-hard baseball fan. Where does that love come from? Why baseball? And who are you all-time favorite players, teams? Favorite moments?

N.T.: Baseball is a huge part of my life, and has been since 1973 when I stepped into the original Yankee Stadium when I was a member of the Boys Scout of America. Something just came over me, like a guy’s first make-out kiss. I can’t explain it—the smell, the aura. It was just incredible. I knew very little about the Yankees or the game, but I became a student of baseball. I just fell in love, and I don’t think people understand how baseball resonates with history. They don’t get the history, the romanticism, the drama. The moments aren’t temporary pieces of time. They last for life.

Obviously, I’m a true diehard Yankee fan. I’ve paid much more attention to the team than the average spectator. My investment had taken a lot out of me, but I’ve loved every minute.

As for great games … in 1976 I was at ALCS Game 5 between the Yankees and Royals. That’s when Chris Chambliss hit the home run. I was one of the fans who ran onto the field, ripped out the Yankee Stadium grass and planted it in my mother’s backyard. A year later I was at the stadium when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs against the Dodgers in the World Series, and in 1978 I attended the game when Graig Nettles robbed the Dodgers of, like, five runs. I was there for Bucky Dent’s home run at Fenway, and Game 4 in 1978 when Reggie stuck out his ass to block the ball. In 1981, I watched the Game 5 divisional game against Milwaukee, when Reggie and Oscar Gamble went deep off Moose Haas. And, of course, the 1996 World Series clincher vs. the Braves. It was surreal. They brought me into the locker room. Amazing.

I can go on and on. I was in Oakland for the Derek Jeter flip game …

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH NICK TURTURRO:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Art Howe, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, gingerbread houses, Los Angeles Rams helmets, “The Drew Carey Show,” almond milk, Kansas City, Joe Pepitone, R. Kelly’s music, Christmas morning, the number 876: Joe Pepitone, Christmas morning, Rams helmets, Art Howe, Kansas City, Drew Carey, Mark Paul Gosselaar, almond milk, R. Kelly’s music, gingerbread houses, 876.

• You met your wife Lissa on a plane. What happened?: It was 1994, on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark to LA. She was really something to look at. I was taken by her immediately, and not just because she was a pretty flight attendance in first class. As the flight progressed she was serving me, and she was nice and classy in a very erotic way. And I noticed other males were giving her attention as the flight was nearing the end. I got up yo ho to the galley where the girls hung out and I introduced myself. I felt an immediate connection. I didn’t know where it would lead. She was going to give me a company number at first, but I convinced her to give me to number to her crash pad. We had a date on Memorial Day in 1994 when she told me she would be in LA. I took her to the Fox lot but it was closed. I got on with a pass and we sat on a bench in front of the old commissary. It felt very romantic, and I dropped her off like a gentleman and went to a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. I called to tell her I really liked her, and she said she really liked me, too. It was exciting for me—a different feeling that I’d ever had before.

• Five greatest actresses of your lifetime?: Anna Magnani, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Ally McGraw, Annette Bening.

• The world needs to know: What was it like working with Vincent Ventresca in “Purgatory Flats”?: “Purgatory Flats” is kind of an underrated movie that nobody knows. There’s some good acting in it and there was a blonde girl. I can’t remember her. But she was very interesting. And, of course, Brian Austin Green was a dark, cool guy.

• Ten all-time greatest sports uniforms?: New York Yankee pinstripes; Brooklyn Dodgers; New York Giants’ Polo Grounds uniforms; Oakland A’s swingin’ A’s unis; the Pittsburgh Pirates 1971 Roberto Clemente unis; the old-school 1973 New York Knicks uniforms; Lakers and Celtics; the old-school New York football Giants and the Joe Namath Jets; the Frank Tarkenton Viking uniforms; the Bruins, Rangers, Blackhawks—so many cool ones it’s impossible to name them all.

• One question you would ask Tommy Herr were he here right now?: Why did you play for the New York Mets?

• What’s the athletic scouting report on Nick Turturro?: Line drive hitter who hits the ball up the middle with occasional pop; good speed and knows how to take the extra base; good outfielder with a non arm reminiscent of the the great Roy White; a clutch smart hitter who knows how to work the count.

• What happens when we die?: I believe and hope there is something higher than us. Otherwise, what’s the point of this life?

• Celine Dion calls. She’ll pay you $50 million to move to Las Vegas and work as her private acting coach for a year. The conditions: For 365 days she gets to call you “Shit Boy No. 28” and you have to have your left arm glued to a hunk of very large cheddar cheese. You in?: Fuck it! I am in, baby!

• What did your childhood home smell like?: The house  smelled pretty good. We weren’t a smelly family and we made good food.