MGWCC #137

[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/18" plug="mgwcc-137" puzz="" anchor=""]crossword 4:14 (paper)
puzzle 0:42[/time_hdr]

greetings, friends, and welcome to the 1/αth episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Mathletes.” i found this one to be an easy crossword with an easy meta, which was a relief since i was largely puzzled out (and definitely meta-ed out) by this weekend’s MIT mystery hunt. let me tell you—there was no puzzle that i solved, without assistance, start to finish, in under 5 minutes… or at all, for that matter. anyway, so matt’s puzzle asked us to identify a number between 1 and 10 (inclusive of 1 and 10). what did we have for theme answers? the four longest answers in the grid were:

  • to {Come home} in baseball is to SCORE A RUN, unless there is a subsequent force for the 3rd out.
  • {With 69-across, Warren Beatty movie about a football player} is HEAVEN CAN/WAIT, a movie i have heard of but know nothing about. it’s about a football player? i wouldn’t have guessed that from the title.
  • {Double, frequently} is a LINE DRIVE. sure. i would say just as frequently, it’s a fly ball that goes over the outfielder’s head. rarely, it’s a hard grounder that gets past the 1B or 3B and rolls into the corner. and there are other, extremely rare possibilities (bunts or infield pop-ups that manage to go neglected).
  • {Beckham bends them} clues FREE KICKS. that he does, even in the twilight of his career.

in addition, there was one huge hint in the grid’s central entry: {Skill you’ll soon find handy} is RHYMING. and indeed, all of the words in the theme answers rhyme with a number from 1 to 10… except one. SCORE(4) A RUN(1), HEAVEN(7) CAN(10) WAIT(8), LINE(9) DRIVE(5), and FREE(3) KICKS(6). you might quibble the CAN/10 rhyme, but in the middle of a phrase like that, i would definitely pronounce “can” the same as “ken.” i think i’d only pronounce it like can (the noun) at the end of a clause, like “yes we can.”

what’s the answer, then? well, there are rhymes for all of the numbers except 2, so that must be it. i think it’s somewhat awkward that the A of SCORE A RUN isn’t involved in the rhyme, but … well, put it this way: 10 sounds a lot more like “can” than 2 does like “a.” i think HEAVEN CAN WAIT is a pretty miraculous find, actually. it’s admirable to try to get a thematic (sports) link between the theme answers, but i think that’s what led to the SCORE a RUN problem, as well as the slight inelegance of two of the four being from baseball. i might have just tried to find four rock-solid phrases (including HEAVEN CAN WAIT and FREE KICKS) and match up the lengths.

odds & ends:

  • {Adjective used before “classic”} is TIMELESS. very true—and yet, a bit redundant, isn’t it?
  • speaking of which, {“Treacherous turncoat!”} is a fresh clue for “ET TU,” but isn’t that redundant, too? what other kinds of turncoats are there?
  • {Fearsome flu strain} is a SUPERBUG. i needed the crossings for this one, but it wasn’t nearly as tough as this puzzle, which i was so far from solving during the hunt that i almost cried when i read the solution (available from the “call in answer” link).
  • {Bridges found in California until the late 1990s} is actor LLOYD bridges, whose sons can still be found in california.
  • {Cut lengthwise, as a chili pepper} is a nice vivid clue for SLIT OPEN.
  • {Stop littering, so to speak} is SPAY. well, i guess that officially marks the end of pet month here at MGWCC. *snicker*

over & out. what did you guys think of this one?

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63 Responses to MGWCC #137

  1. Jim says:

    The can rhyme through me off. But I decided between that an splitopen (which could rhyme ten, so there were 5 clues, each rhyming 2 except for one) and nothing that rhymed with 2, it had to be 2.

  2. Matt K says:

    Anatomy of an epic fail: For some reason, I only saw one of the rhyming numbers from each theme entry. The four numbers I came up with summed to 23. 23 across = IN TOTAL, which I interpreted as “IN” TOTAL. So I counted the number of times “IN” was embedded in answers in the grid. It didn’t help that the answer stacked immediately above IN TOTAL was COUNT. Brilliant trap, Matt, even if you weren’t aware you set it!

  3. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    I went off track, and thought I could get away with rhyming 35 A, COUP, with “TWO”, much more felicitously than CAN with “TEN.”

    Isn’t COUP a sports term of some sort?

  4. Hugh says:

    I think that TU rhymes with 2 a lot more than CAN rhymes with 10. How about it , Matt?

  5. TimM says:

    The “rhyme” for ten is pushing it. Didn’t work for me. I submitted ten, since COUP is in the puzzle right above RHYMING, and is a perfect rhyme for two, and is a bridge term. Don’t like the ambiguity of this one. I missed my “click” moment.

  6. Eric L says:

    I’m with Bob K – rhyming CAN with TEN is really a stretch, whereas COUP unambigiously rhymes with TWO.

  7. joon says:

    hmm, maybe i didn’t clarify this enough: the number rhymes are only in the theme answers, which are athletics-related (as per the puzzle title). looking through the grid for other answers that rhyme with numbers is pretty much beside the point.

    bob, whether COUP is a sports term or not, it wasn’t clued as such. also, it’s just a random fill word, not part of one of the longest answers. so it’s not thematic.

    hugh, i don’t think TU rhymes with 2 at all. they’re pronounced exactly the same. that’s not a rhyme.

  8. Thomas says:

    I also rhymed COUP and submitted 10. I wish Matt had just said “1 through 9″ in the instructions and made 2 the unambiguous answer.

  9. tabstop says:

    I wrote a long rambling e-mail about how I really should submit 2 but was submitting 10 instead. I don’t think it will get me very far.

  10. Matt Gaffney says:

    161 correct entries this week for the number 2.

    80 entrants submitted the number 10 as their answer, most of whom used the logic outlined by Bob Kerfuffle above.

    I’m torn on whether to accept 10 as an alternate correct answer and will probably punt to the executive committee on whether I should do so. Strongest argument in favor, as Bob mentioned, are that TEN and CAN are imperfect rhymes, and that COUP at 35-d takes care of the TWO, leaving 10 as the only unrhymed number.

    Against that we have the argument that COUP is not part of the four theme entries, which would make it an obvious odd man out. This is the part I’d need to be persuaded on; even if the TEN/CAN rhyme doesn’t sound good to your ear, rhyming the number 2 with a random fill entry would be completely inconsistent with the rest of the theme.

    Incidentally, COUP was a last-minute addition to the grid. I noticed soon before publishing that I had CAN (of all words to repeat) in both HEAVEN CAN WAIT and CAN BE at 48-across, so I had to redo that part (CAN BE became RABBI in the grid).

  11. kirsten says:

    No, staging a coup is very unsportsmanlike!

  12. Matt Gaffney says:

    Re the question of whether TEN and CAN rhyme: before publishing I consulted Merriam-Webster, which gives these as the correct pronunciations of the two words:


    CAN: \kən, ˈkan also ˈken; dialect ˈkin\

    Which shows that TEN and an unstressed CAN, as in “Heaven Can Wait,” do indeed rhyme. Or, at least that they can rhyme.

    I do grant that this meta was more ambiguous than I intended — to my flat, mid-Atlantic newscaster’s non-accent, CAN and KEN are pronounced exactly the same when CAN is unstressed, as in “Can I help you?” Such ambiguity doesn’t help the “click factor” or the “aha moment,” which again I agree is an inelegance in the meta. I aim for that aha moment and click, which shouldn’t boil down to the solver finely parsing arguments pro and con and perhaps still not being quite sure. I’m unhappy with this meta in that regard.

    But that CAN and TEN can indeed rhyme, as backed up by dictionaries, seems to me to make it superior enough an answer to the 10 / COUP logic that I’m leaning towards not accepting 10. But I’m certainly open to being persuaded, and I’m very likely going to kick this to the executive committee (there really is one!) for their counsel.

  13. joon says:

    say “heaven can wait” to yourself and pay attention to how you pronounce it. unless you’re rebutting somebody else’s claim that heaven can’t wait, you are almost certainly saying ken as in kenken instead of can as in can-can. that passes my test.

    i admit it’s awkward because rhyme is usually defined as starting from the last stressed syllable, and this rhyme works best if “can” is unstressed. imperfect, but it seems far better than plucking a random word from the fill and rhyming it.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    I was torn between 10 and 2 as well, with COUP bothering me. I finally went with 2 as it just felt right (whatever that means).

    Crosscan, which doesn’t rhyme with ten.

  15. sandirhodes says:

    Heh heh. I originally cited two as my answer, using ‘(split) open’ to rhyme with ten. Then I got to thinking that split open wasn’t a theme answer, so there might be a better solution. Coup was stacked on top of rhyming, and was the only entry rhyming with two, so I asked Matt to change my answer to ten. (I don’t know if it’s ‘legal’ to change an answer once submitted, even if the logic is off!) Never heard back. As the only unambiguous rhyme for the choice between 2 and 10 (open/can), I think some consideration needs to be made for coup and 2.

    I would also argue with the way the task is set. An addendum teling us that 1 and 10 are candidates is either a red herring, or a fix because one of them is the answer. Originally stating the task as an answer ‘from one to ten’ (instead of between) may have been more efficient.

    Either way it goes on this, I still have fun with these puzzles! Thanks, Matt.

  16. rmac says:

    COUP isn’t part of a theme answer. It seems as simple as that to me.

    – Russ

  17. Fred says:

    I didn’t think the rhyme for 10 could be “can,” and I figured that both 2 and 10 were lacking rhymes. Since he was looking for only one number I decided to divide 10 by two, getting 5 but there was a clear rhyme for 5 in a theme answer so I subtracted 2 from 10, getting 8. Yes, there was a rhyme for 8 (wait) but it was off in ther corner by itself so I figured 8 might work. Oops.

  18. Johnny says:

    First of all, I’d like to say that I thoroughly enjoy these puzzles, and won’t be upset if my submission of TEN isn’t accepted. I went back and forth between choosing to submit TWO and TEN, and did recognize that TEN could rhyme with CAN if pronounced properly. However, since the answer to 17a (SCORE A RUN) had an extra word that didn’t rhyme with a number, and the other theme answers contained two rhymes as well, I eliminated CAN as a potential possibility. COUP didn’t seem right either, but I liked it better as a rhyme.

  19. Neil B says:

    Like many others I debated 2 and 10 and just couldn’t accept can as a rhyme with coup sitting there. Also, the inclusive thing added to the intrigue

  20. Howard B says:

    My issue was that I’ve never heard or pronounced ‘ten’ like CAN. We here in Joisey/NY pronounce it with a very short A or at minimum closer to a schwa, nowhere near the short E in ‘ten’. Audibly, they are very distinct.

    So while 10 or 2 were my original possibilities, seeing COUP (although not as a theme answer) actually persuaded me to 2, since I couldn’t find any words that rhymed with 10!
    COUP could also be loosely sports-related. Seemed as valid as the CAN/TEN possibility, in hindsight.

    Either way, whatever is decided is cool. But I regret nothing ;). (Technically, I might regret ‘two’, but hey).

  21. Meg says:

    I struggled mightily with the 10 or 2 question. SCORE A RUN has the unused word “A” so I figured CAN could be unused also. I just wouldn’t say “Heaven ken wait.” There’s no rule that only theme entries must be used, so I went with COUP. I actually thought the rhyme was marvelous, since it doesn’t look like it would be a rhyme.

    Awaiting final judgment…..

  22. Jason Feng says:

    I was one of the “TWO” people. I’d originally intended to submit TEN but up here in Canada, CAN is pronounced nowhere near “TEN” would rhyme. And while it was part of the long theme answers, I just couldn’t get myself to submit TEN as an answer. Another excuse was that there was no rhyming word for the “A” in “SCOREARUN” so I thought Matt had put in a red herring with CAN. After I found COUP I looked around the grid for a rhyming word for TEN but couldn’t find one except maybe “KARAN”.

  23. Matt Gaffney says:

    Johnny –

    My logic on the A in SCORE A RUN was as follows: there are ten words total in the four theme entries, and nine of them rhyme with a number from 1-10. Since the word “A” doesn’t rhyme with the number “2,” those cancel each other out. But it would have been more elegant if there were only nine words in those four entries and all of them rhymed.

    The seed for this theme was noticing that all three words in “Heaven Can Wait” rhyme with a number (assuming you buy the ten/can rhyme). I thought that was cool enough a find to build a theme around, and noticed that LINE DRIVE and FREE KICKS also made rhymes. SCORE A RUN was close so maybe I forced it when I should have let it go (it’s a second baseball entry, would have been better with four different sports; plus the A is slightly inelegant as well. But you know how unlikely it is that 9 of the numbers 1-10 can form four sports phrases with rhymes!?).

    Starting to wish I’d never noticed that about “Heaven Can Wait”…!

  24. Abby says:

    I think it may’ve helped to * the theme clues this time to avoid people trying to rhyme with COUP (or ETTU or SLITOPEN or whatever). I assumed that “Heaven Can Wait” sounding like “Seven Ten Eight” was probably where Matt got the idea in the first place. The fact that the theme words actually are on a sports theme (to go with the rhyming title) is peachy.

    I did look at the other words for rhymes to see if I was missing anything. My Latin’s rusty, but I think in classical pronunciation (the way I was taught in school as opposed to the more modern way Church Latin does it), “et tu” sounds just like “8 2″ (the short “e” being the same sound at the end of “Brute”, for example), but I’ll agree that homophones don’t really rhyme.

    I didn’t see much else that rhymed with anything, and felt that 2 rhyming with a NON-theme word (COUP) clenched it as different and the answer for sure.

  25. Andrew Ries says:

    Submitted 2 fairly confidently…my rationale was that HEAVEN could rhyme with both seven and ten. Obviously it’s not as elegant as the others, but I never even noticed the CAN/TEN connection. It probably would have been a decent idea to limit the possible answers to 1-9. Still it was a brilliant puzzle, imo.

  26. Howard B says:

    I agree that this was an insanely tight theme, with the sports-themed phrases and all. Forgot to add kudos for that :).

  27. Aaron says:

    Yeah, I’m bummed about this one; understood the meta and followed instructions — but I thought we were just looking for words that rhymed, not necessarily specifically in the theme entries. TWO rhymed twice, with ETTU and COUP, and I couldn’t find anything that rhymed with TEN (I guess it CAN rhyme with CAN, it just doesn’t when I say it), so I submitted ten. Otherwise, it’s a good puzzle.

    - Aaron

  28. pannonica says:

    Beg to differ with Howard B. This native New York Citier (although I’m told I don’t have a discernible accent) never questioned the Heaven Can Wait / Seven-Ten-Eight rhyme; it was obviously the metagerm. As some others have mentioned, in context of the phrase (for me) it’s can \ˈken\ = ten \’ten\ or perhaps \’kin\ if speaking brusquely. The noun is indisputably \’kan\ while both \’kən\ and \’kan\ seem laborious and time-consuming or possibly Bostonian for a verb.

    So, the verbs can and ken are generally indistinguishable for me, sort of like the midwestern pin/pen/pan complex, just shifted over and not quite as expansive.

    On the other hand, I completely missed the sports component of the meta.

  29. *David* says:

    I only wavered a bit between 10 and 2. When I saw the two different ways of saying can, I felt confident with the answer. I would never have thought of leaving the theme answers to find another rhyming fill with 8 out of the 10 accounted for in the themed fill. I knew A and the can/10 was going to be the topic of conversation.

  30. nanpilla says:

    I went back and forth between 10 and 2 also, but decided that since the a in SCOREARUN wasn’t used, then the dubious rhyming of CAN for ten wasn’t valid either. Since the rhyme of coup and two was so perfect, I went with the ten. AT least I was willing to accept the whole 3 and FREE thing this time, as opposed to the telephone number puzzle.

  31. Howard B says:

    Sorry Pannonica. Was the Jersey in me speaking there. Slightly different sound as you said – ‘kan’ more often for the object, and ‘kin’ as you said if speaking very curtly or quickly, eliding the vowel. I have still never heard ‘ken’ rhyming with the numeral, which is why I had that theme answer noted as “7 8″ in my original scribble without a question of 10, figuring 2 numbers per theme. That left the two remaining numbers as said before, with one leftover rhyme somewhere (which for me was then covered by COUP).

    My apologies for including NY in there and inadvertently expanding the region. Northern NJ might have been more accurate. Must self-edit. Must self-edit…
    This sort of discussion really makes these puzzles that much more interesting, as if they aren’t to begin with.

  32. Karen says:

    I missed both the whole ‘CAN’ thing, and that the theme phrases were sports related. I rhymed ten with SPLIT OPEN, which had the advantage over COUP in being a phrase, and over ET TU in being a rhyme rather than a homophone. Guessed right this time. I hope the rest of January is a bit easier!

  33. Garrett says:

    Well for me the fact that the can in “Heaven Can Wait” is the ten rhyme and the A in “Score A Run” is canceled-out by the missing 2 saves the elegance of the meta, which I originally thought was a bit flawed. What we have here is two sets of two-word grid fills and two sets of three-word grid fills. But the “Heaven Can Wait” one has its third word in a non-contiguous area, which spoiled the balance of things for me. I was seeing “HeavenCan” as yielding one rhyme with an odd word left, and “Wait” as yielding the eight. But as “Can” pronounced ‘ken’ be rhymed with ‘ten’ then I think it is arguably different than “Score A Run” because it has three rhymes and thus changes placement behaviour–it breaks the symmetry in two ways, but that makes sense.

    What was not making sense to me was the break in symmetry if the ten had to come from some place else in the grid. I found two ways that it could be arrived at.

    The first stems from the fact that all of the rhyming grid entries were either sports related or the clue was. So I reasoned that the meta should indicate another clue or grid entry like that. The puzzle yields two more: ABA and AJAX. What caught my attention on AJAX was that the symmetrical opposite point in the puzzle was UNIX and above it ROME. I felt that this was possibly a hint that the missing rhyme was being supplemented by a Roman numeral ‘X’. But I wasn’t happy with it.

    So after looking around for a while I kept seeing INTOTAL. ‘In Total’ being a term for a sum, it all of a sudden hit me that the sum of the words in the meta grid fill I had identified so far was TEN. This felt relatively solid, because we are introduced to the key of the meta by an isolated word — RHYMING, so why not another isolated word for a meta meta?

    I could not bring myself to go with ETTU or COUP giving me two because they in no way fit anything about the meta so far. And in fact this is also an anti-argument against my INTOTAL deal, but not against the AJAX one.

    In any case, I got the right meta answer, and am please with the correct meta explanation. Works for me.

  34. Anne E says:

    Wo, I totally missed just about everything this week:

    (1) Didn’t notice the sports theme.

    (2) Didn’t notice the can/ken/ten issue, and a good thing since I don’t hear can and ten as rhyming.

    (3) Didn’t notice that Matt included 10 as a possible answer for the meta… for some reason I read “a number between 1 and 10 (inclusive of 1 and 10)” as “a number between 1 and 10 (inclusive of 1)”.

    (4) Therefore didn’t even consider 10 as an answer and submitted 2, with a note to Matt that I was sure I was missing something.

    Didn’t realize I was missing so many somethings! Never have so many of my errors canceled each other out so fortuitiously. :-)

    But yeah, not the usual unambiguity Matt rightfully prides himself in.


  35. Mark says:

    I am in the 10 camp and told Matt in my e-mail that it felt like a 50/50 guess between 2 and 10. It feels like the elegant solution may be to not include the 10 guessers from the monthy total but not allow us to be included in the weekly winner draw.

    The dictionary is not always right, just don’t believe 10 and can rhyme. It would be poetic license.

  36. john farmer says:

    Oscar trivia. “Heaven Can Wait” was the name of a Best Picture nominee in 1943 and in 1978 (two unrelated films). What four other movie titles were Best Picture nominess in two different years? (Godfather, LOTR, were different titles. No sequels.)

  37. SethG says:

    I wavered, decided to send in 10, and then was out of town and didn’t get a chance to send anything. Given the title, this was my most disappointing miss ever.

  38. wobbith says:

    Got side-tracked by Ma Nature today, and thankfully forgot to send in my entry. I waaay over-thought the meta and had no chance of getting it right.

    It never occurred to me that CAN could rhyme with TEN (it doesn’t in my universe).

    COUP is a gimme rhyme for two.

    Wondered about (split) OPEN, but if OPEN rhymes with ten, you have to consider UNIX (6), UNION (1), and NEHRU (2), too. That seemed a bit much for week 2 so I scrapped that idea.

    As for TU, I disagree with joon. I think homophones DO rhyme. I can’t find an authoritative source either way, but Merriam-Webster lists rime as a rhyme for rhyme.

    So I counted TU as a legit rhyme for two.

    So 10 words in the grid rhyme with a number in the set. But no “aha!” there…
    “Mathletes” implies that we have to do some math, right? Is counting math?

    What else? Oh look… instructions in the grid, maybe!?


    After concluding that “COUNT TIME”, meaning November, meaning 11, was beyond the pale, I read the instructions as “SCORE COUNT LESS RHYMING”.
    SCORE COUNT = 20
    LESS = minus
    RHYMING = 10 words rhyming with numbers in the set

    Meta answer: 20-10=10
    joon – I live about 20 miles west of you. I said “Heaven can wait” to myself a dozen times and the “CAN” never, ever, sounded remotely like the “ken as in kenken”. I think Howard got it right, CAN is pronounced with “very short A or at minimum closer to a schwa”, at least around here.
    joon – thanks for doing this every week!
    Matt – thanks for doing this every week!
    Amy – thanks for doing this every day!

  39. pannonica says:

    It’s amazing how how our universes of pronunciation can be so mutually exclusive!

    I’m imagining the schwacanners among us sounding like Katharine Hepburn with that weird trans-Atlantic accent so rife in Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s.

    Types of rhymes, including eye, macaronic, identical, assonant, and perfect.

  40. Norm C says:

    I also submitted 10 as the answer. I struggled between 2 and 10 like many others and really tried hard to relate 10 to CAN. Just didn’t seem right at least to my ear. I googled the term “regime athlete” and got some results referring to athletic training regimens. While it seemed to be a bit of a stretch with respect to the “Mathlete” theme at least it had some relevance and COUP is certainly a no brainer as a rhyme for 2. I think there is enough ambiguity in this puzzle that Matt should also accept 10 as a correct answer at least for eligibility for the monthly contest if not for this particular week.

  41. Matt Gaffney says:

    That might be a Solomon-like solution to the issue, Norm.

  42. john farmer says:

    Time’s up. Oscar trivia answer:

    Cleopatra (1934, 1963)
    Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, 1962)
    Romeo and Juliet (1936, 1968)
    Moulin Rouge (1952, 2001)

  43. Jeff says:

    I wonder if the people who gave correct answers have an uneven geographical distribution.

  44. pgw says:

    I too submitted TEN. I scoured the grid and found that *nowhere* else was there a rhyme for a numeral … other than COUP. (I don’t buy SPLIT OPEN as a rhyme for TEN – it’s OH-puhn, not oh-PEN.) And I think the CAN/TEN rhyme is highly dialectical. Joon, when I say “Heaven can wait,” “can” has a schwa in it – not the stressed short e in “ten.” “Ten” never has a schwa.

    But as I said to Matt in my submission, I had a lot of trepidation. It did feel odd to go outside the theme answers for the final rhyme, and CAN/TEN is awfully close. I think the best thing here would have been to rework the grid to remove COUP.

  45. Matt Gaffney says:

    Jeff –

    Yes, a high % of those who answered TEN were from the NYC area or New England.

    I had an enjoyable conversation at the ACPT in 2007 with Peter Gordon, Rich Silvestri and a few other New Yorkers about the words “merry,” “Mary” and “marry,” which I pronounce identically but which they pronounce three different ways! I kept making them say “Merry Christmas,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” and “Will you marry me” to illustrate.

  46. pannonica says:

    I just want to confirm this: when those of you who assert that “can” is most often pronounced with a schwa, you’re insisting it rhymes with “gun”?

    “Merry,” “Mary,” and “marry” are each distinct for me, by the way, for what little that’s worth.

    addendum: I just reread the comment thread from the start. Very interesting to see the ten-can controversy develop and build up steam, factions all a-flexing! Also, am abandoning “schwacanners” in my personal topical lexicon in favor of the more fluid “schwadherents.”

  47. Howard B says:

    <– merry, mary, marry = meh-ree, mair-ree, ma-ree (Short 'A' with mouth open wider than when saying 'Mary'? Don't know proper terminology. Milder version of a sound one might make when yelling on a roller coaster).
    Three distinctly identifiable pronunciations. Be happy to demonstrate sometime ;).

    I never even noticed that I pronounce 'can' differently when using it as a verb and as a noun! I use 'kin' as a verb (almost a schwa but closer to short 'I'), and a short A sound (similar to 'marry' above) as a noun. Even weirder, I only use the 'kin' pronunciation in casual conversation, reverting to a more standard 'can' when speaking more formally (presentations, speeches, etc). That's really cool!

  48. Michael Morowitz says:

    If this were democratic, I would vote for not accepting TEN since there’s simply nothing in the four theme answers that come close to rhyming TWO. But I was about 80% sure that Matt meant CAN rhymes with TEN so I submitted that.

    But, since this is all in good fun and there seems to be significant enough controversy, I would advise Matt to accept TEN.

  49. jimmy d says:

    I vote for “2″… I noticed that there were only 4 theme answers representing nine digits, so I knew one answer would have three number-rhymes in it. To be fair, I thought the ten/can rhyme was a stretch, but it was close enough for me to be a no-brainer. and I’m from the NYC area too.

  50. pannonica says:

    uhm, “1/αth,” joon?

    addendum: Never mind. I figured it out. Reciprocal of the fine-structure constant. Very Plancky.


  51. Carolyn Emold says:

    Here in Milwaukee where we have our own linguistical peculiarities (bubblers not drinking fountains) can does NOT rhyme with 10.I then matched the numbers to the words and the sports theme went out the window.I hope I kin/ken do better next time.

  52. tabstop says:

    pannonica: it’s not quite the same vowel in my speech, but it’s about 43.6 times closer to rhyming with “gun” than “ten”.

  53. Amy Reynaldo says:

    My erstwhile editorial assistant phoned New Jersey to ask to speak to Dr. Curro, with her educated Chicagoan accent. “Who? Whaaat? Dr. Crow?” replied Curro’s secretary. They went back and forth a couple rounds before the light dawned. “Oh!” exclaimed the secretary. “Dr. CAAAH-ro!” New Jersey and Lawn Guyland accents slay me.

    Oh, the puzzle? I totally forgot to do it last weekend.

  54. Norm says:

    If you open up coup for two, then you have to accept unix as another six, in which case that’s the “right” answer (mine, admittedly) as the only one with two rhymes in the grid. Better stick with two. I’m happy to be “wrong.”

  55. pannonica says:

    Even though it’s ultimately irrelevant, it may be worth pointing out that candidates such as UNIX, ETTU, and SLITOPEN—regardless of pronunciation—are used only partially in forming the suggested rhymes, as compared with COUP. This somewhat weakens their viability.

    Of course, it’s all countered by noting the superfluous A in SCOREARUN, one of the actual meta components.

  56. joon says:

    UNIX doesn’t rhyme with 6. it rhymes with tunics, and basically nothing else.

  57. Clueless says:

    unix doesn’t rhyme with 6? or Twix? or fix? In what universe? :-)

  58. Stewart Levine says:

    To compound the regional accent component, I was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx, lived in Texas for the last 40 years, and my wife is from Louisiana. I submitted 10.

  59. joon says:

    in my universe, two words rhyme only if they sound the same starting with the vowel of the last stressed syllable. unix/six is what i might call a half-rhyme, between a stressed and an unstressed syllable. wikipedia seems to call it an imperfect rhyme, which i guess makes my definition perfect rhyme, or at least very close. (i’d contend that an aspirated h is an articulation, so “hear” rhymes with “ear” even though “hour” doesn’t rhyme with “our.”)

    i guess it’s becoming increasingly clear that there isn’t any general agreement about what constitutes rhyme.

  60. Julie S. says:

    As per Matt’s comment “…and I’m very likely going to kick this to the executive committee…”, I thought you were about to say I’m very likely going to kick this CAN down the road to the executive committee before a COUP takes place among my solvers.

  61. rebecca says:

    I submitted TWO with a bit of a doubt about TEN, but once I realized that TEN does indeed rhyme with CAN when unstressed, I was sure of my answer. I’m an upstate new yorker.

  62. Norm says:

    I love this thread, although it’s probably dead. I especially love Joon’s (very precise) distinction between perfect and imperfect rhymes. I confess myself trounced.

  63. pannonica says:

    Matt Gaff 137: The Raft of Cans
    (with apologies to William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban)

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