HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Oil patch is bouncing back BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017

Heartening news is emerging out of the oil patch. According to two of the best energy analysts in Alberta, Peter Tertzakian and Jackie Forrest of Calgary’s ARC Energy Research Institute, plus anecdotal evidence from those working in the oil patch, things are picking up. Not like the halcyon days leading up to the Great Crash of 2014, mind you. But way better than 2015 and 2016, when barely an oil-patch wheel was turning and the Canadian energy industry had losses of $52 billion and $32 billion, respectively. Right now, 200 drilling rigs are out there in Alberta — up 50 per cent from a year ago. The drilling is for higher-valued natural gas, liquids (ethane, propane, butane) and oil. Oil biz CEOs are banking on $50 US (or more) a barrel for West Texas oil — $70 Canadian — being steady for the next few years. Improved technology has dramatically lowered drilling costs and increased production per new well. The returns have piqued investor interest. Conventional oil, gas and l ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: OTTO Food and Drink is all about small-is-beautiful BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2017

OTTO Food and Drink 11405-95 St., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 780-477-6244 ottofoodanddrink.com Hours:  5 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, No reservations Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns  Price: Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $20; loaded, $45 Beer drinkers, sausage eaters and conversationalists, rejoice. You now have the perfect Edmonton eatery – OTTO Food and Drink. OTTO is friendly, modern, clean, easy on the wallet and without pretense. It’s in a solid working-class neighbourhood a few blocks north of Little Italy on 95 Street. OTTO is designed for conversation. There are no televisions, no loud music. What a concept! Other than the usual sides (fries, mac & cheese, coleslaw, potato and house salads) and desserts, OTTO sells nothing but sausages. (Actually a “veggie of the day” is on the chalk board. The beets on horseradish-seasoned goat cheese were inspiring.) You also go to OTTO to dri ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Government should do away with grants BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 03, 2017

We the general public are like sheep, our wool unceremoniously shorn year after year for use by others. Not for the greater good – not for those truly needing help, but for groups and individuals who don’t need our money. It’s not the government, but government as conduit. Governments pass along your tax money to others in the form of grants (or tax credits, which are grants by another name). But the people getting those grants - in businesses, not-for-profit organizations, or individuals – don’t need your money any more than you do. They’re just smarter! They figure out where the money is, and they go get it! They research government programs, figure out how to apply for whatever grants are on offer, pay a professional grant-writer to write the application, and bingo, wind up with a $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, $10,000,000 grant! There are literally hundreds of government-sponsored, grant-giving agencies - Emissions Reduction Alberta, Sustainable Developme ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Crash Hotel Lobby Bar re-inventing bar foods BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2017

Crash Hotel Lobby Bar 10266 103 St. http://crashhotel.com/lobby/ (780) 719-3807   Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 stars   Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $25; loaded, $50 Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week   Urbansparq Hospitality, meet Nathin Bye, meet the Crash Hotel. Nathin Bye, meet Urbansparq and the Crash Hotel. Urbansparq is a low-profile hospitality operation based in Edmonton with the Midas touch – witness the proliferation of its flagship The Pint pub operations across Western Canada and into the USA, plus dozens of other well-run hospitality operations. Nathin Bye is one of the city’s leading chefs, first at The Wildflower Grill, then Ampersand 27. He won the prestigious Gold Medal Plates Edmonton culinary competition in 2012 as a wet-behind-the-ears 26-year-old. The Crash Hotel is a prototype for a possible new Urbansparq hotel division. The company bought the decrepit 70-room three-story G ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Bed-Blockers remain a problem for Alberta hospitals BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2017

It’s a chronic problem that never seems to go away. The term “bed-blockers” is no longer used, but the issue remains. At any given time, around 400 hospital beds in Alberta (one-third in Edmonton) are taken up by bed-ridden seniors waiting for placement in long-term care/nursing home/assisted-living facilities. The wait times aren’t readily available from Alberta Health Services, but in some Ontario hospitals, the wait time has grown longer and longer, from an average 18 days in 2004 to 69 days today. The cost per patient per day in Alberta hospitals is $1,500 per day. Long-term institutional care cost is $100 to $200 per day. The NDP government is fulfilling an election promise to create 2,000 more long-term care beds by 2019, with $500 million committed to date. The cost to the health care system won’t drop – those hospital beds will be filled the moment they are vacated. But with beds freed up, horrific emergency room wait times could be reduced. It’s a para ... Read the rest of entry »

Disgraced at the Citadel Theatre: Excellent script, good-but-not-great production - theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS

Disgraced Hope & Hell Theatre Company Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jan. 21, 2017 to Feb. 5, 201 Review by GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com Tickets  Disgraced is a damned fine play, with its current production at the Citadel Theatre being good, but not great.  It is part of the Citadel’s season, but is produced by the Toronto-based Hope and Hell Theatre Company. In other words, nobody from the Citadel Theatre had any input into what’s on stage. If one of the Citadel’s past cadre of directors – artistic director emeritus Bob Baker, former associate directors James MacDonald and Tom Wood – had been at the artistic reins, this would likely have been a great show. All three directors are masters of this particular style of play. (I can’t yet include new Citadel artistic director Daryl Cloran. His directorial debut won’t come until the 2017/18 season.) Disgraced is one of those relentlessly contemporary dramas that ticks off all ... Read the rest of entry »

Discovering fine new theatre - Peter Fechter: 59 minutes - retrospective by GRAHAM HICKS

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes Cardiac Theatre at the ATB Arts Barns Edmonton, Alberta, Canada A retrospective by GRAHAM HICKS,  HicksBiz.com If you missed Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes, performed at the ATB Arts Barns by the Cardiac Theatre company from Jan. 10 to 22, 2017, I’m sorry for you. It was an intriguing one-man show. One live actor, Bradley Dore playing Peter Fechter, with three pre-recorded voices coming from strategically located loudspeakers in the PCL Studio Theatre. The voices were those of Peter’s mother, father and best friend, and almost as important to the show as Peter Fechter himself. This intriguing theatrical experience was conjured up by leading young Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill.  Fechter is a true historical figure, who at 18 was one of the first East Germans attempting to flee from East Berlin to West Berlin across the recently constructed Berlin Wall in 1945. Fatally wounded by East German guards in the no-man's land along the wall, he bled to death ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Dining at Zinc is breath-taking BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017

Zinc Restaurant  2 Sir Winston Churchill Square (north-west corner, Art Gallery of Alberta)  zincrestaurant.ca  780-392-2501  Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars  11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Tuesday and Wednesday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday Closed Monday and Sunday evening Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $50; loaded, $120 When Zinc Restaurant is good, it is very, very good. In fact it’s easily in the Top 5 restaurants of Edmonton. But when it is bad … Inconsistency has plagued executive chef David Omar’s kitchen since the lovely restaurant opened on the ground floor of the equally beautiful Art Gallery of Alberta in 2010. I’ve dined at Zinc at least a dozen times over the years. The inconsistency has been consistent. When the kitchen is on, it produces a cornucopia of beautiful food. When it’s not, you wonder what the reviewers ... Read the rest of entry »

One fine night of theatre - Coralie Cairns and Shaun Johnston in Annapurna - Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Annapurna Shadow Theatre production, playing at the Varscona Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada January 18 to February 5, 2017 www.shadowtheatre.org Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.ca This production of Annapurna, at the Varscona Theatre through Sunday February 5, is as satisfying an evening of theatre as is possible in Edmonton, or anywhere for that matter. The script, beautifully written by American Sharr White in the Sam Shepard tradition, is deeply cynical as it explores loss and loneliness, self-destruction, terrible life choices and emotional pain. And it has the most beautiful rays of redemptive sunshine, moments so tender as to make one weep in some strange mixture of joy and sadness.  And, in marvellous synchronicity with its many other themes, in a very intelligent way, Annapurna is extremely humourous. The title, by the way, refers to one of the highest and most difficult-to-climb mountains in the world. P.S. it’s a metaphor. So veteran Shadow Theat ... Read the rest of entry »

In search of plot: Fortune Falls Flat - Review of Catalyst Theatre's Fortune Falls by GRAHAM HICKS

Fortune Falls Book by Jonathan Christenson and Beth Graham Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Christenson A Catalyst Theatre Production, presented in association with the Citadel Theatre At the Citadel Theatre’s  Maclab Stage (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)  Ticket information January 17, 2017 to February 5, 2017 Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com What, I wondered as the house lights came back up, was that all about? How could the taut, focused scripts of the Jonathan Christenson we know and love have dissolved into the muddle that had unfolded before our eyes? Christenson is an extraordinary story teller. In his best work, style, music, movement, sets, costumes and attitude relentlessly focus on telling that story.   Christenson’s best shows start with alienation, usually taking famous outliers of literature - Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe, the hunchback of Notre Dame, Vigilante’s Donnelly family - re-telling their stories through his creative process, turb ... Read the rest of entry »