Zay N. Smith

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Zay N. Smith (born May 1, 1949) is a columnist and author known for his work at the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote a popular column from 1995 to 2008 called QT, which was a mixture of humor and comment.

It is this column he has brought to the Internet at

Smith's column has many running features, which include the following:

  • We Have Seen the Present, and It Does Not Work
  • The Not Me Decade, in which everybody else is responsible for everything
  • Modern Education + the Criminal Mind =
  • QT Abridged Too Far Dictionary of the English Language
  • Lest We Forget that the Dark Ages Were a Faith-Based Initiative
  • QT Trickle-On Economics Update
  • The Case for the San Andreas Fault
  • QT Modern Corporate Gibberish of the Week
  • The Case for Zero Tolerance of Modern School Administrators
  • QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language

Smith's column also features a running gag in which readers report how many search engine hits they can find for the phrase "tap-dancing militant Islamic fundamentalists" (or some similar variation). The Los Angeles Times has referred to Smith as "our favorite Chicago columnist since Mike Royko."

Reader contributions play a significant role in QT's content. One frequent contributor topic is punned variations on current headlines or movie titles; the best (or worst) are rewarded with the admonition "Stop it. Stop it now".

Before starting the QT column, Smith worked as an investigative reporter on stories ranging from laetrile smuggling to religious cults, as a foreign correspondent on such stories as the pilgrimages of Pope John Paul II to Poland and as a writer of major features. He played a key role in the 1978 Mirage Tavern investigation, in which undercover reporters operated a bar on Chicago's Near North Side while hidden photographers took pictures of city officials accepting bribes.

Smith is a graduate of Lawrence University, did postgraduate work at the University of Iowa and has taught at Northwestern University.

He is the father of two sons, Bryant and Zachary.


1."Smith queues up comeback"

2. "New Digs"

3. "From the archives: The Mirage Tavern, 35 years later"

4.""The QT: Hu's on first, awesome bacon ads, and more"