Crude Observations

Trick Treat Whatever

First off, I apologize for not doing a blog last week. I was off to Vegas to see U2 at the Sphere and it was every bit as awesome and spectacular as you can imagine, if not more so. It was also the first cross-border trip my wife and I have taken where we left our kids at home to their own devices (all Apple) and I have to say it was completely worth it. U2 and Vegas were awesome. The food was great and the company was spectacular and without peer! And, the house didn’t burn down! A win all around…


The last Friday blog of the October is always a special one around here, because it is one that allows me to engage in some levity and scathing yet pithy political satire and commentary. Statements that are (mostly) free from judgement, recrimination and retaliation from the targets of my slings and arrows. Why would that be you may ask and what makes this time of year different from all the others? Well let me enlighten you friends.



The targets themselves of course are just sitting ducks at the best of times, but this go around, I get to do it while in costume since, as we all know, this is the last Friday before Halloween and everyone, I mean everyone, is dressed up. Right? You are dressed up, right? I can’t be the only one…



But I digress, while dressed up, I get to take pot-shots at any and all and no one is the wiser on who I am. It’s great. I mean, who can get mad at some dude dressed as the Cat in the Hat saying your political beliefs are trash? It’s genius!



And as many of you know, the way I do this at this time of year is through my annual trick or treating trip around the proverbial neighbourhood. It’s a bit of a Halloween tradition.



First a refresher, for the old timers like me. Who remembers trick or treating back in the day? Running around the neighbourhood like the hyperactive sugar-mainlining little twerps we all were, stomping on old Mrs. McGillicuddy’s flowers, tearing from house to house, especially the house that gave out full chocolate bars and regular-sized bags of Hickory Sticks (that’s my house BTW)? Avoiding the houses that had lousy candy, ringing the bell at the dark house just in case and generally plotting with friends about all the ones you were going to hit, many of which had nicknames? Well, that’s what we’re doing today, folks.



A little trick or treating in my favourite energized and politicized neighbourhood. CPP or no CPP, inflation or not, war or not, energy crisis or not, business case or not… we are making the rounds, ringing the bells and when that is done, I’m going home to carve a pumpkin.



And as luck would have it, it’s been an eventful year and we have had a lot of change to our neighbourhood, with carpetbaggers and grifters coming from all over to set up occupancy in our lovely subdivision. Some are welcome. Some are odd. Some should have stayed where they were.



The Saudi House – Everyone knows this house. It’s the biggest house on the block and the fence is made of gold. It’s one of the first ones all the kids go to just in case they run out, which never happens, because they have the biggest candy reserves in the world and always hold some back in reserve. There are always fancy cars parked out front and they set the tone for a lot of the other wannabes in the neighbourhood. A couple of years ago they were all about making deals with Biden House to increase the amount of candy they were giving away, but this year they are sticking with their limited supply which of course is wreaking havoc on prices. Most years they also give cash, targeting somewhere between $85 and $95 per trick or treater. Just a few years ago it seemed like they might start demanding admission and taking cash! But they seem totally flush this year, so open that bag wide.



The Russia House – Let’s face it, anything from this place is bound to be a trick. Whether it’s talking about handing out less candy but then giving you a handful, stealing people’s mail or pirating your wifi, this is the house that everyone avoids because it’s weird, creepy and the bald guy who lives there is never wearing a shirt which scares all the kids. Plus, they have a bear. And the bald guy is always, I mean always, wrestling the damn bear. Don’t even get me started about the giant flare stack that is always burning. And then there is that ongoing property line dispute with Ukraine House that has actually gotten violent in the last couple of year. Most of the kids avoid this house and their parents won’t allow them to go. Rumour has it that one kid went there last year and mysteriously fell out a basement window.



Ukraine House – This house is next to Russia House and as referenced above they share a fence that Russia keeps trying to move. Under constant pressure from the Russia House this house shouldn’t have the time to do banal things like hand out candy, plus they seem poor, but they sure do their best. A lot of their candy has been donated by pretty much everyone on the block except China and Russia and the short man who answers the door in his green t-shirt always seems to be good for a joke, rumour has it he was once a comedian of some fame. There is some confusion about their garage though, as the bald Russian guy next door keeps trying to park his Lada in it.



Stephen Guilbeault House – This house is freshly painted green and is not very popular, especially with the kids whose parents drive cars and have natural gas furnaces, water-heaters and stoves. This is mainly because the main resident of this house spends his waking days wandering through the neighbourhood issuing fines and collecting “taxes” from anyone who doesn’t think the way he does. Plus he has this weird obsession with caps.



Tom Brady House – Too soon! Fine. OK. I mean who wants to go to a washed up 46 year-old athlete’s house? It’s bad enough going to regular folks houses in Canada and hearing stories about junior hockey glory, but this guy? Super Bore! Right? Although he does give away rings… To be fair though, there’s this kid named Kevin who is practically camped out on the doorstep, just waiting for some love.



Danielle Smith House – It’s fair to say that this “new old kid on the block” is the house all the kids want to get out of the way as early as possible, since no one seems to know what to make of the newbie. The windows in this house are covered in foil, we’re told it’s to keep out Bill Gates’s radio signals, but the lights are on, which says fair game for trick or treaters. When the door gets opened, there is a friendly looking lady in front of you, but something feels off – she seems a bit… intense. Upon hearing “trick or treat” she gives everyone some expired Turkish cough syrup and some promotional material for something called an Alberta Pension Plan and tells the kids that it’s OK to skip their vaccines and not tell their parents. Then, some kid starts to ask her a question and she quickly slams the door on them. Then she opens the door a crack, hastily mumbles sorry and closes it again. All you can hope is that maybe next year she will be a bit less crazy, or at least get some real treats – we really aren’t that fussy. Be normal.



UK House – Once one of the more stable and predictable houses in the neighbourhood, in recent years (weeks even!) the UK House seems to have run into some tough times. The kid rumour mill says that a few years ago, they left their local homeowners association and ever since, the upkeep on their house has fallen into the crapper and they appear to be unable or unwilling to pay their bills. The old lady who ran the house recently passed away and her crazy son, who was living in the basement is now stuck trying to figure out how the mower works. They also have a seemingly endless slate of temporary tenants (after evicting the one who was actually a clown) who seem to mean well, but never last long. All that said, if you get there before the power is cut off you can maybe get some cucumber sandwiches, stolen artifacts and Cadbury Flake bars.



Trump House (formerly known as Mar-A-Lago)  –  This is the giant, glitzy place you go to if you want to get “Yuge” chocolate bars and regular-sized bags of chips. Except on closer inspection, you realize that you have low quality Made in China, tariff exempt waxy mini-bars and “Chipz” that not even the local dollar store will stock.  Combine that with the crazy old man with the orange make-up and terrifying combover who yells at you from inside, tells off-colour jokes and offers to share his half-eaten KFC with you, it’s easy to see why this place gets less popular as the night wears on. Late arrivers often see the man sitting in an enormous gold chair furiously typing into his smartphone. God help anyone who gets suckered into a trick which is where the crazy old man drags you inside and makes you read his pen pal mail from some nut in North Korea or tells you nuclear launch codes or claims he has classified documents that detail who killed JFK. This house may not even be open this year – rumour has it the old dude is in court on a number of charges.




Clinton Manor – Oy, well yeah you can get treats here, but it’s that weird and awkward house where the earnest old lady lives (who may or may not have a husband, but for sure has a cat) who tries to make too much awkward conversation about how she used to be “a big deal” before eventually giving you a precisely allocated single candy (usually a nougat or Werthers) and maybe a few pennies or a toothbrush. Plus, through the open door, the house smells vaguely of some kind of slow cooking food (if you’ve ever had a paper route and had to collect money, you know the smell). Regardless, you don’t mind stopping by because you just know she’s lonely as can be and wants to stay relevant in the neighbourhood, so much so that each kid receives a reminder that she has a podcast.



Biden House – Free Hugs! This house is a relatively new addition to the neighbourhood run. The guy who lives there is old and a bit weird – he smells hair – but it seems like his heart is in the right place and he uses words like “son of a gun” and “malarkey” so you feel obligated to stick around and have an old-timey conversation with him. His candy choices are a bit dated – candy corn, taffy, and bags of popcorn – but the electric vehicle subsidy card is legit cash that you can apply to getting your very own Tesla.



Speaking of which, another relatively new house is the Elon House which the kids simply call the X House. This one is clearly owned by some self-involved rich dude, as it is plastered with pictures of himself and has a news reel playing on an outside monitor celebrating his many achievements. It is also the only house with a rocket on the lawn and the giant lit up X on the roof can be seen for miles. Another distinguishing feature is the crowd of people constantly gathered around the X house yelling at each other and endless parade of what appear to be Russian sex robots telling anyone who will pay attention that they like them. It’s all so confusing. On top of all that, you have to pay $8 to get anyone to pay attention to you and just like last year, all trick or treaters got were share certificates of Twitter.



Crypto House – this place is filled with flashing lights and super-caffeinated post-millenials and Generation Z get-rich-quick schemers. If you can’t fill up your Unicef digital wallet here with at least 100 Doge Coins, you’re a rookie. It’s only when you leave that you notice that house is built with playing cards on sink hole, but you have your NFT of some wannabe influencer posing with an Instagram model so whatever, right? You’re in the money. For now. Looking back, you realize that the house was easily twice the size last year.



Meta House – Formerly known as the faceclock house, you can’t decide when you get there whether the guy who answers the door is trying deliberately to look like Data from Star Trek or HP Lovecraft. It only gets stranger when you look inside the house and see some weird AR projection thing happening and realize that the house, the person, the yard and everything else is not actually there, including the stairs you climbed to get to the balcony and knock on the front door! Crash. Ouch. That metaphysical metapmorphosis hurt a meta lot.



Permian House – this place used to be where it was at. Once upon a time it was party central with music and lights are going at all hours. All the kids in the neighbourhood wanted a piece of whatever was going on there and the line-ups were always huge. This year the candy bowl is empty and the dude who answers the door in his bathrobe says they are trying to save money and all they can hand out is dividends and an offer to buy back candy they gave you in prior years. As you sadly turn away you notice that someone has emptied your treat bag and stolen all the Dogecoin you got from the Crypto house.



Trudeau House – we all know this place. It’s the one that tries too hard. Too many decorations, lights, skeletons, the whole nine yards. Every time the bell rings, the owner in full costume jumps out from behind a bush and more likely than not proceeds to take a selfie and compliment you effusively about how great you look and how awesome Halloween is before retreating back to his hiding spot to lie in wait for the next unsuspecting kid who comes along. This year, it feels like he isn’t even trying since when you ring the bell it’s that Jagmeet dude from NDP House who answers and all he wants to give you is a confirmation of a dentist appointment. While you do get a giant chocolate bar, it all felt a little off when you were asked to regift it to the WE charity. At times like this it feels like this may be the last time you have to visit this house. One can only hope.



Poilievre House – this house feels like it could have some promise, even though there is a giant 18-wheeler parked in the driveway. The dude who answers the door is kinda nerdy and intense but appears to have a decent sense of humour. However, all that goodwill goes out the window when he gives you a two-foot long piece of a 2×4 and when you call him on it he yells that all you ingrate kids should get off his lawn and that due to something weird called justinflation that the piece of wood is actually worth “triple triple triple” what he paid for it. Then he suddenly cackles loudly and out of the blue throws an axe at his immediate neighbour Trudeau House and yells “axe that shit Justin!”. Realizing you have stepped into the middle of some crazy neighbourhood feud you warn all your friends away. Who needs a 2×4 anyway? It’s not like you can pet it like a stuffed teddy bear.



Pipeline House – Only about half the kids go to this house mainly because it regularly disappoints. Last year, the kids were all promised full size bags of jelly-bellies and a candy bar if they stopped by and sure enough, the house was soon surrounded by a group of local moms protesting sugar. This year, the house is one giant construction site with crews working 24/7 on not one but three houses on the property, one of which looks like it was recently completed. While on the outside, it may not seem worth it to go to this house, the payoff can be massive. It’s highly recommended.



Oil Sands House – this house was the place to be and be seen way back about ten years ago but now seems strangely forgotten and unloved. Back in the day, it was almost as madcap as the Permian House down the block, but now it is much more reserved. You can still get some pretty good loot there, they are just slower to hand it over and it’s accompanied by a small lecture about how they weren’t being paid as much as everyone else and how that is unfair. That said, if you look around, you will notice a brand new electric vehicle in the garage, a smiling banker in the driveway and a trench dug between this house and Pipeline house. Something is going on.



Quebec House – This house is confusing because all the signs are in French, but if you are patient, you will be rewarded by a steaming to-go package of… poutine and rotisserie chicken? Really? Oh well. At least this year they aren’t lecturing us about separation and not wanting fossil fuels and… Oh wait… I’ve just been reliably informed that they are going to be charging people who don’t live in the house admission to get it. Especially if they are anglophone.



Natural Gas House – Everyone knows this house. It’s the one that starts the crazy rumours that this is the year they will have the dominant candy drop on the street. Big chocolates, bags of chips, you name it. Fabulous decorations. Then, by the time you get to it, the porch light is off, no one is home and there is a Tupperware bowl full of those horrible toffee candies with the wax wrappers and a sign saying: “please take one only”. Except this year. This year is going to be different I swear. Big bags of loot! All you can eat! Riches and moneys galore! You’ll see! Really.



Environment house – this is the house that the hipster environmental couple rents. They have two vehicles, a Subaru wagon with a bike rack and a subsidized Tesla SUV. There’s a Greenpeace sign in the window. Stephen Guilbeault at one time rented this house on Air BnB. Used to be these two were always away at important conferences, then they went to Zoom because of the pandemic but now all bets are off and off to Dubai they go for COP2326. Due to supply chain issues, this year they are unable to source their usual free-trade organic hemp and stevia candies that you would usually toss into their xeriscaped garden, so instead every trick or treater gets a cup of mushroom tea, a bath bomb and an EV subsidy.



Kenney House – this used to be good for a small treat, but this year it is clearly closed for business. Window shades are drawn. Lights are off. No car in the driveway. Oh, and there’s a sign on the door saying “best of luck suckers, I’m cashing in my chips!”. Not very welcoming at all!



Alberta House – this used to be my house, but now it appears it’s occupied by squatters. No one is actually sure what is going on in this house anymore. They don’t have any candy, but the lights are on. There are a bunch of guys sitting on the porch on their phones, drinking whiskey and sending out mean tweets. Inside there are another bunch of guys that actually want to hand out candy but can’t decide if all they should hand out is the same old stuff from years past or some of the great new stuff they have. There is a vote of some kind trying to decide if they should keep the candy for themselves or let someone else hand it out. A sub-group wants to know who all these freeloaders are who want candy. A neighbourhood survey says less than 25% of kids are even thinking of stopping at this house. Yet another group calling themselves “Take Back Alberta House” is secretly plotting to rule the house but they seem more than a little unhinged. One can be forgiven for deciding that by the time they figure out what they’re doing, most of the kids have already passed them by and trick or treating is done.


Carbon Tax House – this one used to charge you a premium to get any of their goodies and tricks (of which there were plenty), but now they are giving stuff away for free if you are one of the biggest home-heating emission emitters and use oil to heat your house. To get the free stuff, all you need to do is prove that you are a big fan of the Justin Trudeau house, typically by voting for him for HOA president. Homeowners and trick or treaters who, on the other hand, use natural gas for heating can suck it – plus they live in the wrong part of the neighbourhood anyway, near that angry Alberta House and confused Smith House.



Pandemic House – these are the people who are still over the top concerned about the pandemic, weren’t sure about trick or treating, agonized for days on how to do it according to the rules and have reluctantly allowed their kids to leave the house and safely beg for candy around the neighbourhood dressed as the Boy in the Bubble (love ya in that role Travolta) or masked up like a plague doctor or Wild West bank robber. This year they are handing out hermetically sealed and disinfected candy wrapped in self-sanitizing zip lock bags and distributed to trick or treaters through a PVC pipe which is connected to a self-loading wheel serviced by junior’s electric train. There is a rumour that some of the older kids went to a house-party dressed as “sexy nurses” and found themselves recruited to work in the ICU. Dad is following the kids around, wearing a mask, triple vaxed and alone, with a radio flyer wagon overflowing with candy. Meanwhile, mom and her friends are on the front lawn, maskless and getting hammered in front of a communal firepit. What a world.



My House – full sized chocolate bars, full bags of hickory sticks (in theory, still waiting on Amazon to deliver them). A warm welcome for anyone who comes by and if you’re lucky some whiskey, a glass of wine and steaks off the grill. Maybe a little discussion about sports and low level complaining about my underperforming portfolio. Politics if you want. Kids coming and going, a couple of cats, a dog (wait what? Ah, just passing through – phew). Come on by anytime, you don’t need Halloween as an excuse. Costume is mandatory.



Happy pumpkin day one and all! See you around the neighbourhood.

Crude Observations
Sign up for the Stormont take on the latest industry news »

Recent Posts