The Non-Expert

Assorted Randomness

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we explain why it’s not a good idea to name your baby after a month, what the opposite of brown is, and exactly who that is wandering the bike path.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: I always liked the names June and May, and although I won’t admit to it, August. Is it tacky to name your child one of those if she is born in the corresponding month? Would it be cruel to name your child Noelle if she was born on Dec. 25?—Karen G.

Answer: Though not necessarily cruel, naming your child after the month in which she is born will bring a great deal of other problems. Just think of the confusion she’ll have learning the difference between her name and the word on the calendar. Will it affect her sense of time? Will she ever arrive at appointments late? Will her place in history seem overblown when she wonders which came first—her name or the month’s—and concludes the former? Provided her name is ‘April,’ will a morning reading T.S. Eliot throw her into an unshakable depression, or will the second time she’s told to bring flowers to her sister (unwisely, you named your other daughter May) be one joke too many, making her crack?


History has taught us those named after months lead miserable lives. Julius and Augustus Caesar, for example, brothers who—as well all know—murdered each other. One shudders at the way the word cleaver rolls off the tongue after June.

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Question: In 1988 one of the most influential bands in modern music, Escape Club, sang on their breakthrough album ‘Wild Wild West’ that we were ‘headed for the ‘90s, living in the ‘80s.’ What the hell would they say if they sang this song today? What do we call this decade we are living in? The Zeros? The Pre-Teens? I’m stumped.

Answer: This time I consulted some of our other Non-Experts in hopes they may have already divined an epithet for our current decade.

Kevin Fanning: ‘The Naughties’

Leslie Harpold: ‘The Oughties’

Matthew Baldwin: ‘The Dark Ages’

Though Matthew is right, it’s Leslie and Kevin who win this time, at least in giving a solid rhyme structure for the Escape Club song:

‘Headed for the Naughties, living in the Oughties.’

Sounds eerily similar to the original lyric, doesn’t it? True, but imagine R. Kelly behind the mic.

(Kevin Fanning adds: ‘It’s A LITTLE FUCKING LATE IN THE DECADE to be worrying about what to call it.’ He is possibly right.)

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Question: If the opposite of black is white, and the opposite of red is green, then what is the opposite of brown?—Whitney

Answer: After a great—OK, good—deal of research into color theory, I will have to dispute your premise that red is the ‘opposite’ of green; rather, they are ‘complementary colors,’ meaning when placed alongside each other, they appear brighter. (Much as when I would hang out with my friends who were in the Gifted & Talented program at school.)

I don’t see brown on any of the color wheels I’ve found, which means brown may not really be a color, but what we could call a ‘hue’ or ‘tone’ or ‘UPS.’ That said, it also should be noted that some colors can make you happy, some make you sad, RGB does not stand for ‘Royal Green Bonnet,’ and you can’t really smell colors.

Joshua Allen answers: ‘It’s dark blue.’

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Question: Here’s a question for anyone who knows the Rock Creek Park area of Maryland: My friend, and other people we know, frequently see a man with blond hair—in a very unusual style (short in the front and a long ‘mane’ down his back)—walking the bike path in Kensington. He is out there all the time and we’ve seen him walking as far as Olney and Bethesda. We don’t think he’s homeless because his clothes look new and clean, and he has high-quality walking shoes. Curiosity has gotten the better of us and we wondered if anyone may know his story, or would be willing to find it out. He’s like the Forest Gump of Kensington! Please help!—P.J.

Answer: The man you’re describing, born in 1967 as Martin (Marty) Sampson Powell, chooses the popular, yet ironic haircut called the ‘mullet,’ the only hairstyle which has more nicknames than wearers. He loves to walk the bike path in Kensington, his hometown. He does it mainly for his health, but also for the fresh air. He knows bike riding elevates your heart rate more and is probably a better workout, but, hey, he’s not in a hurry, you know?

Whenever he spots you riding by on your bike, his heart snaps in two.

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Question: I am interested in exploring the history of the magazine Apparel Arts, which had contact with both Esquire-Consort and Condé Nast. Does anybody sell issues of this publication, which I think started in the ‘30s but was in its heyday in the ‘50s?

Answer: Our research shows that Apparel Arts launched in 1931, later went possessive as Esquire’s Apparel Arts, then briefly changed back to Apparel Arts, eventually settling on the name Gentlemen’s Quarterly for a quarter of a century. In 1983 it became, simply, GQ, and would spend the next 20 years telling men around the world that brown leather bomber jackets were in.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack