Linda G. Hill is an energetic blogger and the founder of Just Jot it January (JusJoJan). This month she’s been providing a daily one word prompt and inviting folks to write on the subject if they feel inspired. It’s a lovely gesture as bloggers, like writers, ofttimes need inspiration.
I generally don’t get my act together in time (and today is no exception) but a few days ago her word was “ghost.”
My first thought was “ghost of a chance,” a phrase we writers hear all too often.
But what do mortals know about ghosts and their shenanigans in the afterlife?
My first impulse was to search online for the source of this peculiar phrase. Guess what? No one seems to know. According to Dictionary.com it could have originated in the1880s when Chinese laborers arrived in U.S. by the thousands willing to work for less than their counterparts. American workers reacted by using the phrase “A Chinaman’s chance” to describe a futile endeavor, thereby reducing the Chinese to insubstantial shadows, or ghosts. Today the phrase “Chinaman’s chance” is considered derogatory.
My search did unearth an impressive list of movies, books, songs and even video games inspired by the phrase. A small sampling follows:
- A 1991 song by the group Rush http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgqkhArHBHM
- A 1987 TV movie staring Dick Van Dyke and Red Foxx
- William Burroughs’ 1991 novel Ghost of Chance described as a “take off on the Book of Revelations” full of a “whimsical hodgepodge of corrosive wit and edgy desolation.” I have to point out other reviewers were far less impressed with Burroughs’ opium fueled visions.
As for me, today I don’t even have a ghost of a chance of convincing Pretty Kitty to get off my lap so that I can work. Any suggestions?
8 thoughts on “Ghost”
Ghost of a chance is good phrasing, someone wise must have said it. I believe there is equal wisdom in sitting still with Pretty Kitty ^_^
I agree but I couldn’t find out who! If you do, let me know please.
Fascinating research Jan. The first thing that came to my mind when you wrote about Linda’s one-word prompt was a novel narrated from beyond the grave: SHADE by Neil Jordan. Another kind of ghost-writing!
Pretty kitty wins. You don’t have a ghost of a chance against her.
Great research! 🙂 They say that kitties can see ghosts – it is why they are running like crazy in the middle of the night.
An open can of tuna? Uh, oh, you meant the possible origin of the phrase “a Ghost of a chance.” 😀
I guess you could try barking. :)))
Good idea! Why didn’t I think of it?