HicksBiz Blog

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 »

Hicks on biz: Innovation means fewer jobs BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2017

The Old Guys’ Drinking Club had gathered, as usual, in a neighbourhood pub. The conversation turned, as usual, to incoming American President Donald Trump. At least give him a chance, I ventured to opine into a sea of scorn for the new American president. Let’s see if Trump can deliver on his promise to bring back jobs exported by American companies to lower-cost countries like China, Mexico and India. “No way,” said the high-tech business man sipping on his scotch. “The man is not only a sexist, racist buffoon, but any new jobs in America, repatriated or not, will be automated. “Trump isn’t going to create jobs – those jobs are gone. They are being done by robots or AI (artificial intelligence).” Therein lies the rub. Alberta has been focused on the job losses in the oil patch, which, the New Democrat government assures us, will be offset by government-encouraged new jobs in a new, diverse economy. Our challenge is more than simple jo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Haus of honesty BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017

Haus Falkenstein German Schnitzel House 15215 111 Avenue 780-483-5904 haus-falkenstein.ca Wednesdays to Sundays, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (reservations recommended) Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service:  3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $30; loaded, $50 Never have I seen such honesty on a restaurant menu. On the second page of the Haus Falkenstein menu is a list of “Frequently Asked Questions.” For instance, why do you use canned mushrooms? Because (I paraphrase) fresh mushrooms go bad quickly, shrink when cooked and it would take too long to fry them. Why do you use processed cheese? To paraphrase the response … Have you bought cheese lately? A friend bought four slices of Swiss cheese at Sobeys for $9.28! You want us to keep our schnitzel prices down, you get used to processed cheese! Besides Kraft processed cheese goes perfectly with our toppings. You don’t know whether to l ... Read the rest of entry »


Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) boss Brad Ferguson said all the right things in his annual state-of-the-economic-union speech at the EEDC’s annual Impact luncheon last Tuesday. The old ideological “left” and “right” are dead. We should come together, right now, all Albertans, develop a 20 year industrial plan and stick with it “to get out of this mess.” Ferguson’s plan has some glaring holes, the first of which it’s yet another plan. It’s not even a plan. It’s a plan to have a plan. Plans are what politicians propose when they can’t think of anything better. In the debates leading up to the American presidential election, Hillary Clinton had a “plan” for this, a “program” for that. Donald Trump didn’t talk about plans, he talked action: Bringing American companies back to America; stopping illegal migration from Mexico; lowering corporate taxes; relaxing regulations to create a pr ... Read the rest of entry »

Bundle up, get outside and enjoy Hawrelak Park/The Ice Castle in January! - by GRAHAM HICKS

Jan. 17, 2017 Baby, it’s cold outside! When it’s winter, inertia can rule.  What’s the point of heading outside?  Mitts, toques and scarves must be put on and taken off, over and over.  Exposed skin is always mildly shocked by the dramatic change in temperature – fingers and toes and cheeks take forever to warm up. But as Canadians, we know the up-side.  As long as there’s little or no wind, being outside on a sun-lit Alberta day in January is gorgeous. The cold, crisp air is a tonic.   Mental cobwebs are swept away.  Headaches caused by the stuffy indoors magically disappear. But where to go once you are dressed for the elements?  Especially when you lack athletic skills such as skating, playing hockey or skiing, when you’re too old and brittle for toboganning? To Hawrelak Park! Edmonton’s most popular park in the summer (Heritage Days etc.) is also a haven for outdoor winter activities. For the second year in a row ... Read the rest of entry »
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