John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


Welcome back

I haven’t posted on here since my lengthy post on Chris Bosh’s place in the history of Toronto’s sports teams. That was on Feb. 11th, the day of Bosh’s return to the once-friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre.

It was also a lifetime ago in the world of blogging.

My paid work for the Canadian Press has taken precedent over my blog work. That’s just the way it’s got to be. After all, this lifestyle doesn’t pay for itself.

In any event, things should be picking up on this page. I’ve got a review of Bob Sirois’ controversial Discrimination in the NHL and I just finished Theo Fleury’s memoir Playing with Fire. Both were fascinating looks at life in professional hockey, and I’ll have posts on both of them shortly.

In the long run, I should be going back to working nights and some of the junior hockey beat. I’ll keep all of you posted, but things should be returning to normal in this space.

Welcome back!


Happy anniversary,!

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 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’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.”


State of the Blog

I ran a Google Image Search for "website" to get this generic graphic. I was also directed to not one, but two pictures of naked women. Thanks, Internet!

A few days ago reader Badmash commented on my post "My weekend in junior hockey Oct. 8-10" to say: "I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?"

I already answered "Yes" to Badmash, but it reminded me that I should post a reminder of what my writing schedule looks like:

Mondays - I will be posting "My Weekend in junior hockey" articles every Monday for the duration of the Canadian Hockey League season.

Those posts have links to all of the round-ups I write and edit for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. I also write a small column on top that summarizes the other articles or highlights something that interested me that weekend.

For those of you unfamiliar with these posts, you can read the latest one here.

Tuesdays - Just a good ol' fashioned blog post. Today's is taken up by this site administration post, but otherwise it'd be a book review, post about sports or some other well-considered rant.

Wednesdays - Last week's Top 10 Sports Books was so popular that I've decided to make it a regular feature of this blog. Reader suggestions are welcome. The sooner the better, since this is a Tuesday and I've got no ideas for tomorrow!

Thursdays - Just like Tuesdays I'll have a regular ol' post in this spot.

Fridays - Sorry folks, this is one of my days off. I need this time to align my chi for my junior hockey work. If you want to see the results of that deep meditation then go to search for "QMJHL" at approximately 11 p.m., "OHL" at 1 a.m. and "WHL" the next morning at 9. (All times Eastern)

Saturdays - Don't come to this site! Instead, head over to and look at the Northeast Notebook that I wrote just for you. It usually goes up late on Saturday, although sometimes it shows up late Sunday.

Also, will have my junior hockey work from the Canadian Press. Check out Fridays' instructions to see how to find that work.

Sundays - I'm usually somewhat zombie-ish by this point, so this is my other day of the week off. QMJHL and OHL round-ups will be available at at about 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively.

Of course, for little bite-sized pieces of my writing you should start following me on Twitter. My handle is @jchidleyhill. Typically, I use Twitter to point out interesting articles I've found and spread my alleged humour around.


Busy week ahead…

An artist's rendering of the new Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary.

This is going to be a crazy week here at headquarters. In addition to my usual self-imposed blogging duties I’m working on an exciting freelance project for the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Specifically, I’m doing brief profiles of honoured members Lionel Conacher, Angela James and Jacques Plante. My writing will be part of the displays at the new Hall of Fame that’s being built in Calgary’s Olympic Park.

In any event, I’ll try to keep the content coming in this space, but there is a good chance that I’ll miss a day or two this week.


And….. we’re back!

As some of you may have noticed, John has been down since Thursday, 5 p.m. e.s.t. Obviously, it's up and running again thanks to the efforts of the good people at GoDaddy.

My understanding is that there was a problem with the database that WordPress operates off of. Hopefully, the technical staff will be able to explain the problem to me and we'll avoid this kind of outage in the future.

Anyway, sorry for the inconvenience. I'll be posting an article on Gilbert Arenas shortly. - John