HicksBiz Blog

The Citadel Theatre at its best - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, review by GRAHAM HICKS

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jan 23 to Feb. 23, 2016 Review by Graham Hicks, HicksBiz.com Written in 1962, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf sits in that pantheon of dysfunctional family dramas that poured out of American playwrights with the release of literary social taboos following World War II – Death of A Salesman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (and the rest of the Tennessee Williams canon), Dark At The Top of the Stairs, Long Day’s Journey into Night. With one huge exception:  It’s very, very funny and playwright Edward Albee’s wicked humour seems to work even better as time goes by, given the acceptance and prevalence of cheerful cynicism in the early 21st Century. Face it, the rest of those classic psycho-dramas were awfully heavy slogging – the long wrung-out pauses, the gloom, the sourness, the non-stop drama, the deep dourness of all those screwed-up people. Martha and George and Nick and Honey are as screwed ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: DynaLIFE versus the Alberta Health Services BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2016

Playing with people’s livelihoods is no small matter. The streets of Edmonton were abuzz this past week, with news of 35 layoffs in the newsrooms of the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun. But, just blocks away, the jobs of 1,200 skilled medical laboratory professionals are still up in the air. Nobody – the city, the province, the unions, the medical community - seems to care. The fate of DynaLIFE’s employees remains in the hands of the rudderless Alberta Health Services (AHS), now being run by yet another interim CEO. AHS has already worked over the DynaLIFE employees once through ineptitude, and may yet do so again. DynaLIFE Dx is a medical laboratory services company, owned by two other medical giants, the Canadian LifeLabs and the American LabCore. Since 1995, DynaLIFE Dx (and its predecessors) has been contracted by Alberta Health Services (and its predecessors) to handle routine hospital and community medical lab testing services for Northern Alberta. DynaLIFE Dx&rsquo ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Great value at Buco Pizzeria + Vino BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2016

Buco Pizzeria + Vino Shops at Boudreau Boudreau Rd. + Bellerose Dr. St. Albert 780-569-2826 bucopizzeria.com 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (later on weekends) Seven days a week Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $25; loaded, $50 It is a joy to experience a top-notch, reasonably priced restaurant – offering champagne quality at beer-tap prices. But of course: Buco Pizzeria + Vino in St. Albert is the latest offering from the Rago family’s Sorrentino Group of restaurants. The family, headed up by Carmelo and Stella Rago, have been opening restaurants in Metropolitan Edmonton some 40 years. Their down home style, upgraded by flair and fashion, has been expressed through the original Sorrento, all the Sorrentino’s Italian restaurants, Caffe Sorrentino, Bistecca, sports bars and the occasional pub. With the Rago’s three sons slowly taking over the show, it’s no surprise a new ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The days are dark, but there will be light! BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 2016

In the darkness, rays of light. Edmonton Economic Development boss Brad Ferguson told the blunt truth Tuesday in his speech at the agency’s Impact Luncheon. Global trends – the two-thirds drop in the price of oil, on-going low prices for natural gas, growing government debt, stalled global economic activity – are all against Alberta’s interest. Nationally, the weak Canadian dollar, provincial and national governments' “toxic” borrowing and lack of new pipelines are further screwing up our provincial well-being. The new provincial government has focused on economic and environmental reforms, on safe-guarding the public sector - just as economic growth dramatically slowed. If the status quo carries on, Ferguson said – the endless government borrowing, the drop in employment opportunity, the loss of the “Alberta Advantage” for business – it will rip apart the social fabric of Alberta. - Related: Alberta's self-employment numbers jumped ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: HUMA Mexican Comfort's food just so-so BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2016

HUMA Mexican Comfort 9880 63 Ave. 780-433-9229 humamexicanrestaurant.ca 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. , closed Mondays Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $30; loaded, $50 The atmosphere is authentic, the decorations and the menu truly reflect the down-home Mexican heritage of the mom and pop owners, now 10 years in Edmonton. The servers are charming. Ours was a second-generation Latino-Canadian, who knew the cuisine and was confident in her recommendations. Prices are very good. One person can eat well for $20. It’s just too bad that the food at HUMA Mexican Comfort, overall, is so-so. HUMA shares a commercial strip that bends around the northeast corner of 63rd Avenue and 99th Street. It’s charming, done up in bright Mexican colours, with lots of old-fashioned tables and chairs. On a cold Thursday evening, it was surprisingly busy. The HUMA menu is big, probably too big, with five pages of app ... Read the rest of entry »

Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen - HicksBiz review by GRAHAM HICKS

Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jan. 13, 2016 to Jan. 24, 2016 Review by GRAHAM HICKS Chelsea Hotel is an intriguing concept – a unique theatrical rendering/interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s considerable canon of songs, back-to-back  for 90 minutes of musical theatre. On the Edmonton pride side, creator/director Tracey Power has recently re-located back to Edmonton where she graduated, some years ago, from the Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts program.  Citadel Artistic Associate James MacDonald served as the show’s dramaturge (theatrical consultant) before it embarked on its current cross-country tour. It’s an intriguing concept … that while most pleasant and creative, doesn’t really work. Chelsea Hotel occupies a no-man middle ground.  Either this show should be blown up Cirque de Soleil style and go to Vegas for a two-year run, or it should be pared down to its essential Leonard Cohen mi ... Read the rest of entry »

Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun - Editorial lay-offs Jan. 19, 2016

At least a partial list of casualties from Edmonton Sun and Edmonton Journal editorial layoffs yesterday - as gathered from Twitter and Facebook postings.  Updated Wed. Jan. 20, 10:30  a.m. Edmonton Sun Donna Harker - managing editor Gary Poignant - news editor Con Griwkowsky - sports Brian Swane - sports Perry Mah - photographer Codie MacLachlan - photographer Ian Kucerak - photographer Cary Castagna - fitness, rim Kevin Mainmann - writer Edmonton Journal Margo Goodhand - editor in chief Stephanie Coombs - managing editor Janet Vlieg - section editor Bill Mah - business writer John MacKinnon - sports columnist Chris Zdeb - lifestyle writer Liane Faulder - food writer and columnist  (since re-hired) Norm Cowley - sports Cathy Lord - website editor Curtis Stock - sports writer Joanne Ireland - sports writer Brett Wittmeier - writer Jessica Brisson - graphics, design Sasha Roeder Mah - editor Ryan Cormier - legal writer Alexandra Zabjek - writer ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Can't someone else own and operate Edmonton's transit service? BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 08, 2016

Tristan Hopper, Edmonton-based reporter for the National Post’s National Desk, has written a scathing critique of the new Metro LRT (Light Rail Transit) line – how not to build new urban rail transit – that is devastatingly accurate, and superbly written as well. The main issue has been the city’s decision to build new LRT lines at grade as much as possible, primarily to save money in the short-term. Hopper makes mince-meat of the alleged money-saving, pointing out that deliberately creating traffic gridlock at LRT at-grade crossings makes no sense whatsoever. Environmentally, vehicles are idling six to 15 minutes while waiting at LRT crossings. Efficiency goes out the window when hundreds of commuters and bus riders are held up by one LRT. And Hopper mentions, tongue-in-cheeky, the “spiritual” cost of wasted time and irritation. Hopper is right. So much so that Mayor Don Iveson, city council, Acting City Manager Linda Cochrane and Transportation Manager Dorian ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Try the Prairie Noodle Shop for great ramen BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 05, 2016

Prairienoodleshop.ca (No reservations) Tues-Sat. 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $30; loaded, $50 If you build it, and build it right, they will come. Since the Prairie Noodle Shop opened four weeks ago, it has seen line-ups. Line-ups at 11 a.m. on a cold mid-week morning, line-ups at 5 p.m. before it re-opens for dinner, half-hour to 45 minute waits until a table opens up in the modern but cozy and bustling 32-seat ramen house. It’s about smart social-media marketing/messaging and an informal, welcoming décor. Until the next trendy, well-executed casual restaurant opens, The Prairie Noodle Shop is the current must-go eatery in town. But none of the above would amount to a hill of noodles, unless the food is bang-on. You can have all the social media in the world, but, in the end, a restaurant’s r ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: How did we do? BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2015

So how did this column do last year? How good was Hicks on Biz in reading business trends, on gazing into Edmonton’s economic future? Not bad, I’d say … with one big blooper that’ll haunt me for years. I said the Metropolitan Edmonton economy would dodge multiple bullets in 2015, and I was right. Despite the colossal drop in commodity prices, despite the economic hardship now pummelling Fort McMurray and Calgary, Edmonton did surprisingly well. City of Edmonton Chief Economist John Rose had predicted 3% growth in the Edmonton economy in 2015, with 20,000 new jobs. It looks like we’ll leave 2015 with a 3.8% growth rate and a net gain of 28,000 new jobs. It’s always good when an economist is too conservative! I said, back in August, that recession will hit Edmonton, hurricane-force, sometime in late January/February of 2016. Business activity will slow down, layoffs will be the order of the day, house prices will drop. In short, that 2016 will be a very, ve ... Read the rest of entry »
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