Last Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of this blog's creation. For the past year this website has been a place to work on my writing, talk about things that interest me and show off my various professional projects.
I’ve been really pleased with this site and with how my career has developed over the past year. In particular, I’ve been touched by all the positive feedback I’ve received from people. I’m always surprised with how often friends or family mention that they love my writing here. It’s nice to see my hard work appreciated like that.
To me, the most incredible thing about this blog is all the people who’ve read my posts that I don’t know personally. According to my metrics, I’ve had 16,688 unique visits and counting. When I started this site a year ago I never thought I’d have that many visitors.
Thank you for all your support.
To celebrate this blog’s anniversary I thought I’d list the top five most popular articles on this website.
But before I do, I want to mention two in particular: "Bill Simmons’ Twitter idea might be a game-changer" and "Sandwich Review: KFC’s Double Down". These two posts are the two biggest spikes in readership I’ve had over the course of the year. In both cases my readership doubled or even tripled the day they were posted.
Here are the top five most read articles of JCH.com over the past 365 days, in ascending order:
5. "Bill Simmons’ Twitter idea might be a game-changer" – May 14th, 2010
As mentioned above, this article was one of the first big spikes in traffic this blog saw. Collecting a total of 202 unique page views since it was first published, this was my first serious stab at discussing the evolving role of media in sports.
“An interesting experiment occurred on Thursday night as the Boston Celtics eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers from the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference semifinal with a 94-85 victory.
As league MVP LeBron James stepped up to the free throw line in the second half the Boston crowd began to chant “New-York-Knicks! New-York-Knicks!”, referring to one of the more moribund destinations that the soon-to-be free agent might head to in the offseason.
Later, the Celtic faithful began to chant “MSG! MSG!”, the acronym for Madison Square Gardens, the home of the Knicks.
This was all part of a grand scheme concocted by ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, Boston’s most famous sports fan, and it may just revolutionize spectatordom.”
4. "Sandwich Review: KFC’s Double Down" – Oct. 19th 2010
I’ve reviewed a lot of things on this blog: comics, books, the occasional movie and even some baseball stadiums. But my look at the controversial Double Down sandwich at KFC was the first and last crack at being a foodie you’ll ever seen in this space. That review was particularly timely, earning some buzz and a spike in readership, eventually tallying 214 reads.
“It took months to make it possible, but yesterday I finally ate a Double Down from KFC.
Normally, reviewing a sandwich is not my bag. After all, my good friend and neighbour John already does a bang-up job over at In Search of a Sandwich. Why would I want to compete?
But the Double Down - KFC’s bacon, sauce and cheese sandwich that substitutes the bread for pieces of deep-fried chicken - transcends a normal sandwich. Just as the Double Down pushes the envelope of sandwich technology, I must expand my blogging horizons for this fast food delicacy.”
3. "Three ice dancing performances I’d like to see" – Feb. 23rd 2010
I blogged throughout the Vancouver Olympics, usually in response to a significant event at the games. By far, the most popular of these pieces was my suggestion for three ice dancing routines that would set the performers apart from the cliché-laden pack.
When I posted this link on Twitter it was quickly picked up and retweeted by many of my friends, making it as close to viral as this site has ever been. That buzz resulted in a total of 313 views to date.
Oddly, and somewhat creepily, “Princess Peach” is by far the most popular search on this website, all thanks to this article.
“Like many Canadians, I was thrilled by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s gold medal ice dance performance on Monday night.
I would never call myself a figure skating or ice dancing fan – I find that too often the judge’s decisions are political – but I was impressed with the athleticism and technique of all the dancers in the competition.
What did not impress me was their lack of creativity or originality. Most of the performances bled together. Virtue and Moir stood above the rest of the competition because they didn’t rely on clichéd music like the themes from the Phantom of the Opera or Requiem for a Dream. They weren’t covered with sequins and feathers. Their performance truly distinguished them from the rest of the pack.”
2. "Toronto has two strikes against it for most professional athletes" – Mar. 9th 2010
I wrote this piece between Roy Halladay’s departure to the Philadelphia Phillies and the National Basketball Association’s free agency period that saw Chris Bosh take his talents to South Beach.
It’s a topic I’d like to revisit sometime, especially since one of my commenters pointed out that my math on the differences in taxes between the United States and Canada might be wrong. Despite the possible error, this post has been read 417 times.
“This summer could be particularly heart-breaking for fans of the Toronto Raptors as they face the prospect of forward Chris Bosh, arguably the best player the team has ever seen, leaving the city as a free agent.
Toronto Blue Jays fans can sympathize with their basketball neighbours – this summer they lost ace Roy Halladay in a lopsided trade with the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners.
It’s a familiar story for Torontonians. One of their teams will draft a player who becomes a star, but the franchise player eventually begins to grumble and complain about greener pastures, eventually demanding a trade or letting their contract expire and moving on via free agency.”
1. "Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells" – Sept. 15th 2010
I try to review every book that I read, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with the general themes of this blog like sports and pop culture. But the incredible success of my review of the Glass Castle shows that maybe, just maybe, I should review literally every single thing I experience. Not just books, but music, food, furniture, public transportation, whatever. Although it is the second-most recent post on this list, it’s garnered far and away the most views at 1,106 and counting.
“I never thought that I’d enjoy Jeannette Walls’ "the Glass Castle", but I was wrong.
On the surface, it looked like it was more for stay-at-home moms. It was one of Heather’s Picks at Chapters-Indigo Bookstores and reeked of Oprah’s Book Club. But once I started reading it I appreciated Walls’ writing and was moved by her story.
Like Frank McCourt’s ultra-popular Angela’s Ashes, the Glass Castle is a dark memoir about a dysfunctional family crippled by the father’s alcoholism and the mother’s loose grip on reality.”
It took months to make it possible, but yesterday I finally ate a Double Down from KFC.
Normally, reviwing a sandwich is not my bag. After all, my good friend and neighbour John already does a bang-up job over at In Search of a Sandwich. Why would I want to compete?
But the Double Down - KFC’s bacon, sauce and cheese sandwich that substitutes the bread for pieces of deep-fried chicken - transcends a normal sandwich. Just as the Double Down pushes the envelope of sandwich technology, I must expand my blogging horizons for this fast food delicacy.
Not since the Earl of Sandwich put meat between two pieces of bread has a sandwich created so much buzz.
The novelty of the breadless sandwich coupled with the thrilling sense of danger that accompanies each sodium-filled bite has made the Double Down into something of a pop culture phenomenon, with people proudly announcing on Facebook or Twitter their desire to consume the grease-laden treat, often accompanied by photo galleries shortly thereafter.
Diana Mehta, my colleague at the Canadian Press, wrote an excellent feature story on the Canadian debut of the Double Down, including the many health risks associated with downing one of these bad boys.
I’ll skip all the warnings from nutritionists though, since I’d like to think my readers are smart enough to know that two pieces of fried chicken with bacon, cheese and special sauce stuck between them isn’t good for you, and move on to the review.
I travelled up to York University campus for my Double Down, purchasing my lunch from the combination KFC/Taco Bell at the school’s food court.
My eating companions were my fiancé Katy and her co-workers Andrew and Rachel. It was clear that we weren’t the only ones feeling adventurous that day: the outlet had the longest line in the entire food court.
After a pretty lengthy wait each of us sat down to our Double Downs and Pepsis.
The first bite was, predictably, very greasy and hot although it really did taste good. After the second bite though, the overwhelming saltiness of the Double Down became a problem.
Fortunately, Katy had picked up some hot sauce for us to dip our sandwiches into and the spice really helped cut through the savouriness of the sandwich. I’d definitely recommend having some hot sauce to anyone trying the Double Down for the first time. The added heat makes it much more palatable.
About three-quarters of the way through my sandwich I had a gut-check. Was I going to make it through? My body was already starting to feel uncomfortable with the mess I was forcing it to digest. But I looked at the wad of meat in my hand and decided that although I might regret it, I was still hungry and could easily put the rest of the chicken and bacon away.
I was right. In fact, when Katy struggled to finish hers, I was able to eat that too.
This sampling had been a long time coming. Katy and I actually had “Eat a Double Down” on our itinerary during our road trip to New York City and Boston this past summer. Unfortunately, we could not find a KFC, and so we had to wait for the Canadian release.
That delay probably created an unfair sense of expectation, but we came to an inescapable conclusion: the Double Down is a bit of a disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong, it really is quite tasty, if a bit too salty. But when I was done my sandwich I was actually still hungry. I regretted the fact that I didn’t order a combo. I could’ve used the fries to complete the job started by the Double Down.
Further, it’s really expensive. The sandwich by itself is $6.99 before tax. I can get a more filling – and healthier – meal from countless fast food chains, so why would I eat the Double Down, aside from the novelty?
I’m sure I’ll have it a few more times, undoubtedly as part of a full combo meal with some hot sauce to dip the sandwich into, but I can’t imagine that the Double Down is going to be a success in Canada.