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Snowball’s chance? 希望不大

中国日报网 2023-10-20 14:31


Reader question:

Please explain “snowball’s chance”, as in this: Kelly said there is “not a snowball’s chance that will happen”.

My comments:

Kelly doesn’t believe there’s any chance of “that” happening.

We don’t know what “that” is exactly, but we know, for certain, what “not a snowball’s chance” means.

And that means not a chance, not at all. Like, utterly impossible.

The full phrase is actually “not a snowball’s chance in hell”.

Not a snowball’s chance in hell? That sounds a little easier to understand, doesn’t it?

Yes, literally, it means not a chance of snowball not to melt in hell.

A snowball melts when temperature rises and hell is, well, where high temperature is.

Hell, of course, is where sinners and evil people are sent after death, according to various religions. They’re sent there to suffer – from primarily hellfire because there’s a perpetual fire burning.

Now, what chance does a snowball stand in hell of not melting?

Exactly. No chance. None.

This expression is American in origin, as PoemAnalysis.com explains:

“A snowball’s chance in hell” dates back to at least the 1880s. One of the earliest examples of the phrase being used comes from The Detroit Free Press. The quote, which was included in an article about the Republican National Convention, reads:

Mr. George C. Gorham, ex-Secretary of the Senate, who not long since remarked, with a good deal of vigor, that under the Hayes administration a Republican in the South had about “as much chance as a snowball in hell,” now supports Grant.

All right. Here are more recent media examples of “snowball’s chance” or “snowball’s chance in hell”:

1. “Air,” about the Nike-Michael Jordan marriage, is a pure pleasure from beginning to end. I’m still smiling and it’s been days since I saw it in a movie theater with a crowd who laughed and listened and held their breaths collectively. From the first moment when we’re introduced to Nike’s basketball scout, Sonny Vaccaro, stroking the egos of high school players, I knew this was a sure thing. Imagine my amazement when suddenly I recognized the site. It was the recreated gym of Bishop Gorman High School, a basketball powerhouse in Las Vegas, with the banners and uniforms proclaiming it the home of the Gaels. This would ordinarily go unnoticed by the vast majority of viewers, well, essentially everyone. Clearly, all you needed to know was that this was a high school gym populated by players and fans. Why did it matter to me? My husband had played on that team, a state champion, a few (well more than a few) years before the time frame of the film. Needless to say, I was already on the bandwagon.

It is a significant opening, not because of the school or the players, but because it’s Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. And Sonny is a gambler. Leaving the school, he immediately heads for the Strip and begins betting on the over/under of various players and teams. Returning later, he collects his vast winnings and ambles over to the craps table where he proceeds to piss it all away. He’s an unrivaled genius when it comes to sports. Gambling on whether a player or team will score higher or lower than the given odds required an absolute knowledge of team and player statistics, not just personal but against every conceivable opponent. There is some luck involved in “guessing” right, but with someone as skilled as Sonny, the odds are in his favor. Losing at the tables, and in rather short order, established that without that sports edge, he’s at the mercy of the house like everyone else. This scene establishes everything we need to know or will come to know about Sonny Vaccaro.

“Air” is the story of Nike, a powerhouse in the runner’s shoe market in 1984 and a never-got-started in basketball shoes. To call them an also-ran would be giving them more credit than they deserved. Phil Knight was a genius when it came to running shoes and the success of his company was a reflection of that. But basketball was a shoe of a different color. His small, really miniscule, basketball division was made up of marketing wiz Rob Strasser, a few suits and Sonny Vaccaro, a savant when it came to basketball who scouted high schoolers and had set up a very popular summer basketball camp. But Sonny, complaining to Howard White, Nike’s resident NBA expert, former player and athletic liaison, felt that the company would never be able to compete unless they could sign a major star. The amount in their budget was designed to pay for three shoe recruits, but anyone with real potential had either been signed by Adidas or Converse or refused to sign for the piddling amount being offered by Nike, a brand worn by no one recognizable in basketball.

Sonny was that unstoppable force coming up against an immovable object, Knight. Knight wouldn’t increase the budget of the basketball division and Sonny couldn’t find three worthwhile recruits to sign for that amount of money. Approaching Strasser with his idea of spending the total budget on one high-profile player was a dead end. Sonny was convinced that they had a chance of signing a future superstar and set about convincing Strasser and Knight that Michael Jordan, the third pick in that year’s draft, was the man. No, he had yet to play a game in the pros, but endless hours watching films of Jordan’s college games at North Carolina under Coach Dean Smith made him certain.

His colleague White was on his side, but Sonny had to find an inside track. He consulted with George Raveling, a personal friend, who had coached Jordan on the gold medal-winning basketball team that summer in 1984. Raveling agreed with Sonny’s vision but told him that Jordan’s most important advisor was his mother, Deloris. But besides his team at Nike, Sonny’s most formidable foe was Jordan’s agent, David Falk. Nike, he said, wasn’t in the running. In first place was Adidas, Jordan’s personal favorite and the shoe he wore off the court; in second place was Converse, the most famous basketball shoe and the shoe sponsor of Jordan’s college team, the North Carolina Tar Heels. Nike not only didn’t have the money, but they didn’t have any stars. Falk, in language far more colorful than I can repeat here, said that they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.

Sonny was not to be dissuaded and secretly decided that he would go behind everyone’s back and approach Deloris Jordan, knowing that if he failed it might finish his career at Nike and it would definitely be the end of any relationship with Falk, the most powerful agent in the NBA. Michael, 21, stubbornly refused to meet with Nike. He had already let his preferences be known. Sonny needed to get Michael to meet with Nike and the only avenue he could see was convincing his mother to at least bring him to the table.

There are no spoilers here. The outcome is already established and well known. But what is thrilling in the telling are the roadblocks to the establishment of the Nike/Jordan partnership and the groundbreaking deal that was made with Deloris Jordan as the lead negotiator, not just with Nike and Falk, but also with her son. It’s amazing that such a story with a foregone conclusion when viewed in hindsight, could be as exciting as it is. It may have been Sonny’s vision, but this was truly a team effort.

- ‘Air’ – ‘A Shoe is Just a Shoe Until You Step Into It’, by Neely Swanson, BeverlyHillsCourier.com, April 6, 2023.

2. In the long history of the American presidency there has never been a week like this.

A former president has been indicted on serious federal charges that carry lengthy prison terms. He and his defenders have called it politicized prosecution. His detractors call it long overdue. Much of the nation waits in uncertainty.

The legal process now unfolding raises questions that have only been theoretical in the past. Among them: Should a former president be exempt from prosecution for actions in office or stemming from his time in office?

Should the prosecution of a former president be off the table unless the authority of the federal government is still in the hands of that president’s own party?

Should it make a difference if the former president is formally pursuing a return to office? Or where he stands in the polls?

And beyond that, can we ever recapture our misty-eyed national mythology about the presidency as the embodiment of what makes us America?

Few are left who remember the wartime unity that followed Pearl Harbor in 1941, a national mood we experienced again, if only briefly, after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Will the nation ever again rally around the White House and its occupant as if rallying around the flag?

Or are we reaching a point where the nation’s highest office is just another point of contention in a constant political war? Will the presidency once again symbolize the worsening of disunion as it did in the days just before the Civil War?

The answers to these questions will largely depend on the fate of one man, former President Donald Trump. Much will also depend on the response of his own party, and on the response of the American voter.

In time, the current national trauma may even lead greater numbers of voters to ask whether our disjointed system of choosing a president – with its pieces and parts from four different centuries – still makes sense.

That’s down the road. For the moment, at least, many leaders in Trump’s Republican Party are sidestepping the question of his guilt and instead attacking the Department of Justice and the current president.

Yet even as the thought of Trump in the dock in a criminal case enrages his core supporters – and the officeholders who depend on them – it may also breathe new life into the candidacies of those willing to offer alternatives.

Even before the big news happened, this past week was notable for bringing three more names into the presidential conversation, all in the Republican Party. All are current or former governors. And while none has been given a snowball’s chance of winning the White House, their entry may have meaning for the overall race.

- The latest Trump charges cast a new light on a growing Republican presidential field, NPR.org, June 10, 2023.

3. Donald Trump reportedly told Mitt Romney’s son he would ‘drop’ Melania when they were dating.

Trump reportedly boasted at a football game about what would happen when he dumped then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, pointing at his now-wife saying his “phone is gonna ring off the hook” when he dumped her. He allegedly told Romney’s son, Josh, “every guy in New York wants to go out with her”, according to excerpts from a new biography about the Utah Republican obtained by Rolling Stone.

The biography, “Romney: A Reckoning” comprises of dozens of interviews with Romney, his family and members of his inner circle, one of whom claims Trump made the comment at a New England Patriots game where he and Romney were guests of team owner Robert Kraft.

The book also details their first meeting at Mar-a-Lago in 1995. Romney remembered Trump as a “cartoon character” who strutted around the lavish Florida estate “like an English lord”.

A Donald Trump spokesperson told Rolling Stone: “Mittens is a loser who is retiring because he knows he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving another campaign. He should stop lying and creating fake stories in order to stay relevant.”

- Trump told Mitt Romney’s son he would ‘drop’ Melania when they were dating, TheMirror.com, October 19, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Sitting target 活靶子


It doesn’t wash 不可信


Break a leg 祝你好运


Track record 业绩记录


Going ballistic 勃然大怒

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