HicksBiz Blog

Our very own Pythons: A review of the Citadel Theatre's production of Spamalot, April 20 to May 19, 2013

Review by Graham Hicks Monty Python’s Spamalot A Citadel Theatre Production, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta Canada – Shoctor stage Until May 19, 2013 www.citadeltheatre.com It’s as much fun as Grease, back in 2003. It’s as zany as Rocky Horror Show in 2011. And it’s as silly as The Drowsy Chaperone in 2009. In other words, The Citadel Theatre’s own production of Monty Python’s Spamalot is as funny a show as has ever graced the Citadel’s main stage. You do know what you’re getting – given Spamalot is a loose stage adaptation of Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail movie, and the show itself was one of Broadway’s biggest hits of the past decade. Who doesn’t know The French Taunter’s “I fart in your general direction” or the Black Knight’s “tis only a flesh wound“ as King Arthur hilariously lops off his arm? As was the case with the Citadel’s renditio ... Read the rest of entry »

Points of pride from living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

What is there about Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that represents the best of Canada, North America or world-class? Here's the start of a list below. If you'd like to add to it, please e-mail me at graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com or Facebook (Graham Hicks) or add a comment.If you have the source of your statistic, please include it. I'd like to make this the "go-to" list for Edmonton's points of pride. Last updated, April 27, 2013 PCL Construction, Canada’s largest construction company and sixth in North America, is headquartered here. Stantec is a Canadian architecture, design and engineering giant, closing in on its goal of being in the top 10 North American construction service firms. North American’s second largest energy park is Leduc-Nisku with 4,650 acres and another 3,000 acres in reserve by the airport. Its 600 companies are leaders in adaptive technology for oil extraction. Three-quarters of them sell internationally. The deep bitumen extraction technology of choice, Steam Assisted ... Read the rest of entry »

Car technology making leaps and bounds: Hicks on Biz column originally published Edmonton Sun, April 20, 2013

BY GRAHAM HICKS ,EDMONTON SUN There's little point in questioning the wisdom of automobile automation. Technology is taking us, by leaps and bounds, into a future that the best of science-fiction movies cannot conceive. On display at the Edmonton Motor Show this weekend, through April 21, is automotive technology we didn’t dream of 10 years ago. It has moved, in the blink of an eye, from proof-of-concept to full commercial production. Even more astounding, the cost of technology comes down so rapidly as to be part of a “normal” sticker price. “Self-parking cars are now priced in the $20,000 to $30,000 range” says show manager Bob Vilas. “Within five years, a technology that was confined to a top-line Lexus is now in a Ford Fusion.” Automotive industry futurists suggest the "self-driving" car, the one Google is already playing with, will be a reality by 2025. The hold-ups will be regulatory, legal and consumer resistance, not the technology. Insuran ... Read the rest of entry »

Sloppy Hoggs a carnivore's delight: Weekly Dish column originally published Edmonton Sun, Wed. April 17, 2013

BY GRAHAM HICKS ,EDMONTON SUN Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus 10406 – 118 Avenue 780 477 2408 www.absolutelyedibles.com (click on sloppyhoggs tab) Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 3 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $40; Multi-course, $60 Rejoice! There is room still in this nutritionally correct world for a carnivore’s delight, for a plate spilling over with a juicy, tender, maple-smoked slab of meat, a heap of fries, brown beans and cornmeal, downed with an ale, followed by a Mississippi mud pie dessert containing at least another week’s worth of calories. When you leave Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus – sorry spell-checker, that’s the actual name - you will waddle. Wear a belt with two extra notches. You’ll need ‘em. Seriously, I couldn’t patronize this delightful hole-in-the-wall, tongue-in-cheek, southern-style roadhouse too often, for I’d rapidly become as wide as I am tall. Sloppy Hoggs ... Read the rest of entry »

Say goodbye to upgraders: Hicks on Biz column, originally published Edmonton Sun, April 13, 2013

BY GRAHAM HICKS ,EDMONTON SUN Wave goodbye to the bitumen upgrader. Hold a funeral for the giant “pre-refineries” that, until 10 years ago, were still expected to dot Alberta’s Industrial Heartland around Fort Saskatchewan, each employing thousands of construction workers for years on end, each pumping $7 billion or more into the Alberta economy. Upgraders are so dead that oilsands giant Suncor has walked away from a staggering $3 billion – that’s 3,000 million dollars – it had already invested in its on-site Voyageur upgrader. Suncor officially cancelled the project last week. New Suncor President Steve Williams couldn’t justify spending the additional $7 billion needed to complete the upgrader, not with better “opportunity costs” elsewhere in the oilsands, i.e. using the $7 billion to expand bitumen production. Upgraders made sense right up to the building of Shell’s Scotford complex in the late ‘90s. Running molasses-like b ... Read the rest of entry »

Sorrentino's Garlic Festival another success: Weekly Dish column originally published in Edmonton Sun April 10, 2013

Hicks: Sorrentino's Garlic Festival another success  Sorrentino’s 22nd Annual Garlic Festival Downtown – 10162-100 St. – 780 424 7500 South – 4208 Calgary Trail – 780 434 7607 West – 6867 170 St. – 780 444 0524 Little Italy – 10844 95 St. – 780 425 0960 Bistecca Italian Steakhouse – 2345 111 St. – 780 439 7335 Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Festival dinner for two without beverages, $50 basic, $85 loaded. Some dining traditions are just meant to be. Like the 22nd Garlic Festival at the four Sorrentino’s Italian restaurants in town, plus Sorrentino’s St. Albert and the Sorrentino’s affiliate the Bistecca Italian Steakhouse. At least a decade ago, Sorrentino’s Carmelo Rago and I had a long chat about this food festival. If garlic was to run its course as a theme, what would be an alternative? Lobster or seafood? Saffron? Ethnicity? H ... Read the rest of entry »

Make Something Edmonton: Hicks on Biz originally published Edmonton Sun, April 6, 2013

“Make Something Edmonton” works as an Edmonton slogan.It may be generic, but it keys in on the essence of Edmonton.We do make things happen in this city and region. (References to "Edmonton" in this column means "Greater Edmonton." We're all in this together.)As slogan originator Todd Babiak points out, there’s no aristocracy here. We’re not glamorous, but we’re not phony. An urban “barn-building” culture means we get things done.The trick will be to spread the “Make Something Edmonton” expression beyond the downtown artisan community, to make the attitude expressed in that slogan a point of pride in the entire business community.Make Something Edmonton isn’t wishful thinking. It's reality.The git-‘er-done attitude and accomplishments of our entrepreneurs over the past decade has been remarkable. And in researching the “git-‘er-done” success of Edmonton, surprises have emerged.Mayor Steve Mandel has brought all the players onto the same page and pointing in the same direction. Before his watch, we squabbled e ... Read the rest of entry »

Nosh nothing to look at but food is fine: Weekly Dish originally published Edmonton Sun April 3, 2013

Nosh Café10049 156 St.780 757 7550Food: 3.75 of 5Ambience: 1 of 5Service: 4 of 5Dinner for two (without beverages): Basic, $20; loaded, $30.It’s pretty terrific to see the entrepreneurial immigrant spirit alive and well.The story line is familiar.South Asian chefs who are trained at five-star hotels in Indian, or on cruise ships, come to Canada on foreign worker visas. They manage after a few years to get regular work visas, then landed immigrant status.Once free of contractual obligation to the original sponsoring restaurant, off they go to work for somebody else. Because of their training — you name it, they can cook it — they’re in demand.Instead of heading off for higher wages, a couple of immigrant South Asian chefs have opted to work for themselves and opened their own, hole-in-the-wall place.Nosh is nothing to look at, just another store in a rundown commercial strip on 156 Street south of Stony Plain.But it’s been getting an excellent word-of-mouth reputation for i ... Read the rest of entry »