Who is Matthew Alice?

Here in San Diego, we also have a weekly Reader that features a column that is uncannily familar. It is called Straight From the Hip and answers the various niggling questions that you can’t get answered anywhere else. Matthew Alice, the putative author, who doesn’t seem to really exist, answers the questions with the authority of brilliance backed by impeccable research. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t throw in a little smartass humor where it fits.

In fact, the only difference between Straight From the Hip and The Straight Dope seems to be that the former is local to San Diego. So does Cecil have a little brother or what? Does he have imitators in other cities?

I hesitated at first to bring this up because I love the column and wouldn’t like to see it shut down by Cecil’s lawyers, but I figure I’m safe because 1) Cecil knows everything already anyway, 2) Cecil isn’t afraid of a little competition, and 3) Cecil probably couldn’t do anything about it anyway. It’s the style, not the content that’s being copied.

There’s also Joel Achenbach who writes a column Why Things Are for a Miami paper and has published three collections of his work. But I’m sure Cecil would agree that there’s enough ignorance out there for everyone.

Hey, Greg! Now that you mention it, I’ve always wondered the exact same thing!

Matthew Alice, who writes a column for the weekly San Diego Reader is almost an exact one-for-one doppleganger for Cecil Adams, who writes for the weekly Chicago Reader, right down to their identically reclusive natures and wry senses of humor.

In fact, I had been reading Matt for many years before I ever even heard of Cecil, so at first glance I thought that it was Cecil who had ripped off Matthew’s gig! (Sorry, Unca Cece! You’re my favorite Uncle - really you are!) I’ve never read Joel Achenbach, but I’d be very surprised if he was as close a ringer for Cecil as Matthew Alice is.

Hell, I don’t know if either Cecil or Matthew really exist as individuals or if there’s some busy writer somewhere ghostwriting both their stuff (Ed?), but the parallels are more than suspicious, they’re downright eerie!

Do you think we’ll ever learn the truth, Greg?

You hve committed gross HERESY!!! To question the existance of Cecil! You will spend eternity in Barbeque Pit!! Repent now!!!


For what it’s worth, Achenbach’s similarity to Adams is that they both are very smart and answer questions in a newspaper column. Achenbach does not apparently shun the spotlight as Adams does (his picture is on the cover of his books). And Achenbach’s humor is less edgy than Adams’. But I’d recommend his Why Things Are books for anyone who enjoys The Straight Dope.

As for Matthew Alice, is there any way for those of us who don’t live in southern Califonia to check out his work?

Repeat after me: Cecil is my Shepherd, I shall not want…

Cecil is the original. Cecil does exist, Ed assures us. All the others are pretenders to His throne, and read His mighty works as reference material and despair - Cecil has trod that dark ground before them, verily.

This has been a public service announcement from the First Church of the Holy Frisbee.

I repent! I REPENT!! It was a moment of wretched weakness… I don’t know what came over me! I’ll behave! Really I will! I’ll even say 100 Hail Cecils! Just please, oh PLEASE don’t exile me to an eternity of horrible and endless torture in ZUG!!

I just went to www.sdreader.com and there’s nothing there on M. Alice. However, you may want to go and check out the lamest, most useless movie reviewer in the world. He hates everything except artsy-fartsy films that only play at one 20 seat house in your local gay neighborhood. He gave Private Ryan a whopping 2 stars, and that’s generous.