HicksBiz Blog

Book of Mormon knows no limits - review by GRAHAM HICKS, posted March 27, 2015

Review of Book of Mormon Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada March 24 to 29, 2015 (Sold out, other than last-minute lottery style rush tickets for $25) Review by GRAHAM HICKS I never watched much South Park on TV, but I read enough about the animated comedy to know it broke all the rules of pleasantry and politeness, was one of the first shows on widely-watched TV in the early ’90s to break the profanity barrier, and was screamingly funny through humourous commentary that made fun of just about every American icon, be it human or otherwise. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were natural heirs to the irreverent, damn the social torpedoes school of American satirical humour that broke through with George Carlin, gestated in Saturday Night Live, spawned The Simpsons and John Belushi. So it wasn’t surprising that Parker, Stone and third collaborator Robert Lopez again broke all the rules when they wrote Book of Mormon, certainly the most successful Broadway s ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Odds still on long-term Alberta prosperity BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015

Spread out those Tarot cards, old gypsy queen, and tell us whither goest oil and gas. Are we doomed to $50 or lower oil prices forever? Will excess greenhouse gases caused by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas raise the world’s temperatures until all is parched desert and the oceans are metres higher due to polar ice melt? To save the planet, as per American President Barack Obama’s line of thought, must the world end its reliance on fossil fuels - within our children’s lifetime? If demand for oil and gas dwindles, will Alberta turn into a have-not province? Will 100,000 young people a year leave for greener pastures in (choke) Ontario and Quebec? The gypsy queen, like everybody else, does not know the future. But logic and clear thinking suggest Obama is likely wrong, that the odds are excellent for long-term prosperity in this province, based on environmentally sound oil and gas production, based on sound, long-term, provincial government planning and policy. Her ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Jasper hoteliers' success story BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 06, 2015

JASPER – After the Mountain Park Lodges (MPL) annual shareholders’ meeting, as has been their custom for some 47 years since the first MPL Jasper hotel opened its doors, three generations of MPL owners gathered for dinner last weekend at its new hotel, The Crimson on Jasper’s Connaught Drive. In the mid-1960s, when the Marmot Basin ski resort consisted of little more than a few tow ropes, the Jasper National Park administration expanded the Jasper townsite footprint, putting four new hotel-suitable properties up for very long-term leases. Six hiking/skiing/outdoor enthusiasts and Edmonton doctors – obstetricians Jack Day, Tim Cameron, Steve Parlee and Leo Gans, anaesthesiologist Dr. Martin Hagen and his wife Dr. Odette Hagen - decided to combine business with pleasure. Finding accommodation on weekend Jasper ski trips was problematic. Why not build their own hotel? Seven ownership shares, at $14,000 each, were divided between the docs, the Millar family (Millar Western), the F ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Evil Dave's food heavenly BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 03, 2015

Evil Dave’s Grill 622 Patricia Avenue Jasper, Alberta 780-852-3323 evildavesgrill.com 5 p.m. weekdays, 4 p.m. weekends Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns The name and the theme are a bit wacko, but the food is really, really good. Good thing we’d made a reservation at Evil Dave’s Grill on a Saturday evening in Jasper. The cheerful restaurant was packed, the ambience having much to do with the glow that skiers give off after a beautiful day at the nearby Marmot Basin ski resort. Amusingly, given the mildly adult tongue-in-cheek ‘hellish’ theme, the eatery was full of kids. The ski hill had been alive with munchkins, thanks to the Jasper Junior Olympics. Good food for the parents, kid-friendly staff and a kids’ menu bodes well for a loyal family clientele. It’s Jasper. There’s magic in the air at the best of times and Evil Dave’s had a great buzz on. Jasper has more than its share of excellent c ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Bodega a true tapas experience BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015

Bodega Tapas + Wine Bar at Sabor 10220 103 St. 780-757-1114 (Facebook page) Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fri./Sat. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays (No reservations) Dinner for two, just food — basic $22, loaded $45 Tapas, claims Bodega Tapas Bar partner and chef Lino Olivera, started when an enterprising bartender to some king on some beach placed a slice of ham, or a “tapper” on top of the king’s goblet to keep the sand out. Obviously the king liked the ham as well as the wine and thus the great Spanish/Portuguese tradition of tapas — small dish snacks — began. A back story is always entertaining, especially as light conversation is a perfect accompaniment to tapas. A more mundane origin of tapas cites Spanish sherry drinkers using ham slices to keep fruit flies out of their drinks. We have neither sand nor fruit flies. Snow rarely drifts into our glasses. But t ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Ways to save old, important Edmonton buildings BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2015

There was once a decrepit old house in the heart of the Highlands. It had been a pleasant, older family home among many such homes in one of Edmonton’s heart ‘n’ soul, tree-lined, spacious, back-alley neighbourhoods. The house needed upgrades. But it was bought by an absentee landlord, rented to riff-raff and turned into a drug den. In a few short years, the house had devolved into a neighbourhood blight. So here’s what the neighbours did. They bought the property, pooled their skills, hired where they had to, gutted and then renovated the 100-year-old house. They gave their teenagers summer jobs to do all the physical labour … plus the kids learned about buildings. The house is now in its final stages of re-construction, the exterior design intact.  Once sold, it should make a small profit for the participating neighbours. A small profit cash-wise, but consider the societal value: Neighbourhood decay was stopped in its tracks, protecting current hom ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: It' Dog is doggone good BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2015

It’ Dog 8621 109 St. 780-438-4083 www.facebook.com/itdogsandchicken Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, just food – $14, loaded $25 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., later on weekends. Wondrous though it may be for convenience, cost and simple preparation, the hot dog sits close to the bottom of the food chain. It’s also alarmingly predictable in its toppings — ketchup, mustard, relish, sometimes onions and sauerkraut. Even a Fat Franks upgrade — best quality sausage and roll, double the usual size — is conventional in the condiment department. Which is why, as you dig into an It’ Dog with a knife and fork because it’s too messy and too big to fit directly into your mouth, you wonder … why hasn’t anybody thought of this before? The It’ Dog Korean-fusion hot dog starts with a beautiful big top-quality sausage in a yummy, hot, soft pretzel bun. That’s just the start. On to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta Premier Prentice's three-pronged budget attack BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015

Rumour has it, reputable rumours, that the Prentice financial team will soon emerge from its extended huddle to announce a three-pronged attack on the 2015/16 budget shortfall. To counter an expected loss of $7.5 billion in provincial energy royalties, $2.5 billion will come from spending cuts, $2.5 billion from new revenues (i.e. new taxes/health care premiums) and $2.5 billion taken on in new debt. The premier will order an average across-the-board 5% cut to every departmental budget from 2014/15, except for Health. As Health will stay static, bigger cuts will happen in every other department. New revenues could include the re-introduction of medical premiums (raising $1 billion), higher personal and corporate provincial income tax (an extra $1.25 billion) plus a hike in cigarette, booze, fuel and other nickel-and-dime taxes ($250 million). Or, and who would have thought it even before Christmas, a 2% provincial sales tax (raising $2 billion) plus other tax hikes ($500 million). Borrowing: Pr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Thumbs up for New York Bagel Cafe, thumbs down for Creperie BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2015

The Creperie #111, 10220-103 St. (downstairs) 780-420-6656 thecreperie.com Food: 2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Sat. to Mon. 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tues. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dinner for two, food only: basic, $40, loaded $100 *** The New York Bagel Café 8430 Gateway Blvd. 780-432-2003 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Tues. to Sat. 9 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sun./Mon. 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Brunch for two, food only: basic, $22 (shared main plate), loaded $60. “Value” is a subjective term. But let’s cut to the chase. Saturday brunch at the charming (and busy) New York Bagel Café in Old Strathcona: My wife and I paid $22 for a shared eggs benedict with lox (salmon), roast potatoes and fresh cut fruit, plus $4.50 per coffee. And it was excellent value. An early Valentine’s dinner last week, at the venerable and romanti ... Read the rest of entry »

Vigilante sends Jonathan Christenson in new directions: Citadel Theatre review by Graham HIcks

Vigilante - written, composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson World Premier, Citadel Theatre (Mclab Stage), Edmonton, Canada A Catalyst Theatre production March 7 to 29, 2015   Review by Graham Hicks It sure is fun, and fascinating, to watch the evolution and growth of an artistic genius in our backyard ... like watching your immensely talented kid brother slowly reveal his extraordinary potential. This review is about Jonathan Christenson’s latest rock-opera Vigilante, playing on the Citadel’s Maclab Stage in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, through March 29. But before we get there, the artist and the show need context. Christenson, born, raised and resident in Edmontonian, is playwright, lyricist, composer and director of his own shows. He’s written musical theatre most of his adult life. House of Pootsie Plunket (1999) and Blue Orphan (2001)brought Christenson a national profile with his collaborator at the time, Joey Tremblay. But it was when Christenson went solo - writi ... Read the rest of entry »