I learned when I was writing this piece a few months ago that the New York Times styleguide doesn’t permit “fun as hell.” So I had a problem while writing yesterday’s article about Common Core, and its ongoing replacement by an identical set of standards with a different name. I wanted to say I was “sure as hell” not going to use the traditional addition algorithm for a problem better served by another method. So instead I wrote “sure as roses.” Doesn’t that sound like an actual folksy “sure as hell” substitute? But actually I made it up. I think it works, though. Maybe it’ll catch on.
With my (lack of) green thumb, “sure as weeds” is the closest I could accept. Are roses really that easy to grow where you live?
Alternatively, is the point that roses, as a gift, are sure to win the heart of a romantic target? Unfortunately, that is also not my personal experience.
What about inventing a mathematical slogan/epithet? “Sure as Galois” just because it is always fun to say “Galois”? “Sure as Serre” has a nice alliteration.
Death and taxes, so, “Sure as taxes.”
sure as shootin’
“Sure as Serre” feels like a tongue-twister; perhaps “sure as Schur”? ;-) The familiar “sure as shootin'” feels like a euphemism for the common [sic] “sure as sh¡t”.
Marge Simpson offers “Sure as sugar”, which works well if you don’t think too hard about it.
It’s interesting to see what autocompletions Google offers for “sure as”. My favourite one is “sure as kilimanjaro rises like a lepress”, but I accept it might not catch on.
“Sure as sugar” corroborates my euphemism theory, since “sugar!” and “shoot!” are both used on their own in the same way.
“Sure as roses” has a nice ring as roses are a kind of standard gift to give someone on e.g. Valentine’s Day. However, I’m not sure I would use the phrase in a negative context. I feel like “sure as hell” is often followed by “not”, or at least used somewhat aggressively. “Sure as roses” just sounds a little… nicer.