Crude Observations

And The Winner Is

It’s March 8th and I’ve got nothing to say. Next week is my annual Ides of March issue, wherein I will let you know which public (and not so public) figures may or may not find themselves stabbed in the back so I need to keep a lot of my arrows in the proverbial quiver, as they say.


On the other hand, I have committed to the long/short bi-weekly missive so content must of course be produced. First off, let me say that last week’s blog about Alberta’s new (and lamentable) renewables policies and ho-hum do nothing and uninspiring budget did elicit some interesting feedback.


So, to set the record straight…


I am an unapologetic flag-waving and water-carrying supporter the energy sector. I believe that the growth of the energy sector in Alberta is the fundamental underpinning of our economic success. This includes ALL forms of energy. Oil, gas, wind, solar, coal, nuclear, hydro. And all the industries and companies that support it, develop the technology to create it, build and implement the emissions-reducing mouse-traps to make it sustainable and staff


I love it all. It’s why I do what I do.


What I don’t like is government getting in the way or picking sides. And THAT is what this UCP government has done. And it made me mad. Plus, utilities are still allowed to do economic withholding. And my power bill is too high.


Okay, lane change.


Contrary to my need to be lazy on a Friday afternoon, I’m going to instead indulge myself and acknowledge an event that is universally loved by seemingly everyone I have ever known and, let’s be honest here, everybody else.


I’m talking about the Academy Awards of course, the Oscars. The big night where the beautiful and smart people in Hollywood get together and celebrate themselves by talking about themselves and giving prizes to each other, all in the hopes that they will get noticed, either while they are preening on the red carpet or at an after-party so they can, of course, talk about themselves some more and how awesome they are.


Come to think of it, maybe the Oscars aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In fact, it is probably the single most self-absorbed night of the year in any industry. Even more annoying than Davos and more self-righteous than a numbered COP summit or Liberal Party Cabinet retreat to discuss themselves and how to not help the middle class. Hard to believe I used to get together with friends to watch these awards and sit on the edge of my seat desperately hoping that my favourite movie would win Best Sound Design for a Movie Adapted from a Kleenex Commercial or hanging on every word uttered in an acceptance speech by such intellectual luminaries as Sally Field (“you really like me!”) or James Cameron (“king of the world!”).


In all reality, I probably won’t watch this year’s version – my family hates it all and I can’t argue with them. The Oscars lost their mojo years back with a mish-mash of hosts, over-politicization of everything and that one time someone was handed the wrong envelope. Like, who does that? Never mind that the proliferation of self-indulgent arty movies in the nominating categories has made the entire event an exercise in cinematic futility for pretty much anyone except the self-congratulatory “members” of the Academy who clearly get compensated for sitting through a lot of the unwatchable nominated movies.


That’s right. The Academy Awards, the Oscars, have been dead to me since they jumped the shark in 1996 by not inviting back the most glorious host in Oscars history – David Letterman (“Oprah. Uma.”).


So clearly, I am not much of a fan anymore. At least of this particular incarnation of the Oscars. That doesn’t mean that I can’t exploit the awards for personal gain. And that’s because earlier this week the real Academy Awards were held and I had the pleasure of attending the ceremonies and I am pleased to report that it was a rip-roaring success.




What Oscars you say? Why the Energy and Other Stuff Oscars of course. Which strangely has many of the same categories as the actual Academy Awards, just with a bunch of surprising nominees, and winners!


As a VIP attendee I was privy to the whole event and below is my review. I’ll skip the boring awards of course. No one really cares about Best Drilling Rig or Best Performance by a Pump Jack in Inclement Weather. Those get handed out separately at the nerd show.


Imagine my excitement when I received my formal invitation to attend this exclusive event in person, at a secret location. My VIP ticket arrived by UberEats earlier this week with a swag package that I ripped open as soon as I got home. Most times, the swag bag is reserved for nominees and presenters (I missed out on that honour) so actually receiving one myself was an early highlight of what was sure to be a special evening.


The contents were of course mostly energy themed and included the following:


  • A Tupperware container filled with bitumen
  • An autographed picture of David Parker home-schooling a prairie dog
  • 10 original Encana share certificates
  • The deed to an orphaned well in the Lloydminster area
  • A fairly sizeable lump of coal (my plan is to put it under my mattress and hopefully make a diamond!)
  • Tickets to an NHL Playoff game in Calgary (offer expires in 2024 – WTF?)
  • An $834 carbon tax rebate cheque signed by Justin Trudeau
  • A CD compilation of Greta Thunberg’s best speeches.
  • A solar panel
  • 1 Dogecoin


Pretty exciting stuff if I may say so myself.


As the day arrived, I found myself strangely filled with a nervous energy I hadn’t felt in a long time. Was it butterflies at the prospect of meeting so many of the luminaries of the energy sector? Maybe it was trepidation at attending an in-person event after all this time of isolation and virtual cocktail hours. Not wanting to be late, I hopped into my car and headed out.





Arriving at the location I tossed my keys to a valet (well I thought he was a valet) and headed up the red carpet to the tent, fighting my way through the surprisingly large contingent of paparazzi falling all over themselves to interview an impressive assemblage of energy related luminaries including, among others Murray Edwards’ butler, Danielle Smith, MBS, John Kerry, Vlad Putin (virtual attendee), Rory Johnston, the entire #COM, Leo DiCaprio, Mike Rose, Kevin and Neil Young.


By the time I got to my seat the show was just getting underway and this year’s host ensemble, the equably voluble Rex Murphy, sartorially splendiferously dressed Jordan Peterson and American conservative icon Tucker Carlson were doing a fantastic Billy Crystalesque mashup song and dance number introducing this year’s Best Picture nominees, complete with jazz-hands and a burlesque routine. To be honest, this part will likely give me nightmares until the day I die and then stay with me in the afterlife.


Okay, I know you all want me to get to the good stuff – the big awards that everyone wants to hear about and I will. But before we get there we have to get some of the lesser major awards out of the way. Given the length of the show and the mind-numbing boringness of the speeches, I am going to spare everyone the blow by blow narrative and just summarize them by category, winner and notable moments that may have happened. After all, the little people should also get some appreciation, right? Fine, maybe not, but bear with me.


Best Supporting Actress for the Environment.


This year’s two favourites were Greta Thunberg for her ongoing efforts to help stem the onslaught of greenhouse gases and environmental Armageddon and that college kid who tracks Taylor Swift’s private jet in order to shame her for her anti-green profligacy. It should come as no surprise that Greta won this one. You may not agree with her but at least she’s not pissing off Swifties.


Best Supporting Actor for the Canadian Energy Sector


While Canadian up and comer Premiere Danielle Smith was an early favourite for this category given her unqualified support of the oil and gas sector and affinity for reviving coal projects in pristine viewpoints it was actually Joe Biden who generated the most buzz in this category with oil prices up significantly since his election as well as record US oil and natural gas production and imports and exports combined with a boom in renewables investment that would make your head spin. Even after killing a pipeline, he is the nest energy president, ever.




Best Director


This award goes to the person who shows the greatest skill and leadership in creating and guiding an energy company. Nominees of note were Murray Edwards, MBS and Vladimir Putin. The award ultimately went to Mr. Edwards who as we know was not in attendance and chose not to reveal his location (Monaco) or be near a window in case either Vlad or MBS was mad about losing.


Best Screenplay/Story Spinning/True or Otherwise


A lot of nominees in this category including, surprisingly, yours truly, although I’m certainly not the favourite since my promotion activities are confined to my job and this blog, making me kind of an indie cult favourite. No, the powerhouse nominees here are Rory Johnston and the Commodity Context Weekly, the Canadian Energy Centre (formerly a war-room) and the anti-fossil fuel stylings of Markham Hislop and his Energi Media. There must have been a lot of vote-splitting here, because I actually won. Perhaps also a sense that despite their best intentions, all the other nominees were sufficiently diverse that the delineations were too stark. I guess I was a conservative choice. Plus I bribed some people. I won’t bore you with my speech, but it was epic and involved the use of props.


Best Actress


This year’s contest featured some pretty compelling performances including Rachel Notley’s turn as opposition leader in a bizarre parallel universe version of Alberta called Crazyland, Danielle Smith as a social media quitting, salt of the earth woman of the people in the sleeper hit Mrs. Smith Goes to Edmonton and Sophia Kiani, for her role as the spirited environmental inclined model in Me and Mrs. Saks 5th Avenue. This year’s winner was of course Danielle Smith, thanks in no small part to a powerful performance by Jason Kenney as the diabolical, Machiavellian schemer whose rise to glory was cut short by a grass-roots rebellion.


Best Actor




Aside from the aforementioned performance by Jason Kenney, the other nominees of note in this category were Justin Trudeau in a madcap adaptation of Black Like Me, Donald Trump in a remake of the Aaron Sorkin classic The American President and a tour de force performance by everyone’s favourite Calgary mayoralty candidate Roger Baker in a Canadianized remake of There Will be Blood, telling the take of a former oil and gas CEO crossing to the dark side of the legal profession. The winner here was quite a surprise with Roger Baker taking home the trophy which, if I am being honest, may have been made on a 3D printer in his garage.


Best Picture


And then finally we were at the moment of truth. The award of awards. The best picture. Strangely, all of the movies in question had the same titles as the actual Oscar nominees although slightly different plots. Let’s go through them.



American Fiction. Stars Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Two otherwise incompatible elderly men form an intense bond of friendship as they battle each other and dementia during a presidential campaign that isn’t actually happening.


Anatomy of a Fall. A re-imagining of the glorious life and times of the Alberta Energy and PanCanadian Energy from their industry-shattering merger through to acrimony and name changes and ultimate irrelevancy.


Barbie. A plastic doll comes to life and discovers the worlds is shit.


The Holdovers. Advisers (mostly 60+ white men) to the Alberta government try to convince it that renewables are nothing more than a passing trend.


Killers of the Flower Moon. A historical allegory of the Canadian and American governments stole pretty much all the resource rich land from First Nations. There was some debate as to whether this should have been nominated in the documentary category.




Maestro. This animated feature tells the life story of Biran Mulroney. Featuring cameos by such contemporaries as Jean Chretien, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark and Keith Richards, this movie also won for best voiceover and features Justin Trudeau doing the voice work as his dad.


Oppenheimer. A young rig hand discovers the secret of nuclear fusion while supervising some routine radiographical inspection of pipeline welds and decides that the best use of his discovery is building a bomb and threatening to blow up the world. This whimsical musical comedy was the highest grossing film of 2023.


Past Lives. A group of elderly men meet and ski together on regular Thursday afternoons and reminisce about love, life and the past while accompanying each other on 3 minute chairlift rides.


Poor Things. The story of the population of Alberta and the search for quality health care told in a series of vignettes at different points in the province’s history.


The Zone of Interest. Young geophysicist Kevin leads a life of quiet desperation analyzing seismic and other data at Megalomanic Oil Ltd. until one day he makes a startling discovery and is forced into hiding in order to protect his life, his family and his country from the fossil fuel robber barons.


True to Oscar fashion of the last few years the winner was The Zone of Interest, a movie that no one except the people that worked on it knew anything about or went to. Mike Rose accepted the award on behalf of the filmmaker, Kevin, who is apparently still in hiding… Wait a second.


Well, there you have it! After all that excitement, I gathered my belongings and eager to go to the after parties, I left the event early in search of my vehicle, only to discover what I already suspected, there was no valet parking and I had randomly given someone my vehicle. Ooops! At least I had won an award.


What’s that? Do I have an actual pick for Sunday? Well the only movie I have actually seen is Barbie and I thought it was quite enjoyable even though Margo Robbie not being nominated while Ryan Gosling is represents to me the most bizarre reflection of the actual plot of a movie and is, well, an offense.


So I hope it wins.


Because nothing speaks more about the world than a plastic doll coming to life and discovering the world is shit.

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