Headline Muse, 10/27

See, I don’t want my prices to rise
But it’s worthless if nobody buys
As I calculate cost,
I’m admitting—I’m lost!
What’s the right rate to charge to tell lies?

Headline: This Way to the Séance

A strange story in the Wall Street Journal. Just another profile of a small business owner… in this case, though, the business is talking to the dead lying to people for money. A weekly group, Séance in the City, meets for fun, to test their psychic abilities, to mingle with one another, and to have Jesse Bravo give them a reading.

“I have a gift and I want to share that with as many people as possible without overcharging them. For two hours, it’s less than a movie ticket and popcorn,” Mr. Bravo said.

Which, of course, brings up the question in the limerick: What exactly is overcharging, when your service consists of lying to people?

In real life, he is a money manager and stock picker; he claims not to use his psychic powers to help him on the job. I believe that, of course. I also believe that if they were actually real, that’s pretty much all he’d use them for, and he wouldn’t advertise the fact for less than six figures. After all, he could make a cool million with Randi if he were really out for money. Convenient, then, that he’s so altruistic, meeting these dozen or so people for only $20 a head for the 2 hour session.

Aside from these meetings, life as a psychic can be a lonely gig. Mr. Bravo’s 88,000 Twitter followers and nearly 3,000 Facebook friends are relentless with their questions, but the friendships are one-sided.

“I get a friend invite and then I get a message with a question,” said Mr. Bravo. “I’m a human being, too. I like to chat and be friendly, and not just be used for my abilities.”

Some advice, then; if you want to make real friends, stop lying to them.


  1. Dorothy says

    completely off topic. I am considering making my xmas cards this year – quilling on the front, or Toll work – and I would like to be allowed to use your poem from December 24 2007 on the inside. It would of course be labelled (c) Digital Cuttlefish and the date you published it. May I, please. You may respond to dgrasett at rogers dot com. I am assuredly not a poet myself.

  2. Thinker says

    It’s sad and unfortunate, and I’m not sure if it’s ever been strictly formulated, but it’s a fact of human life just like any law of chemistry or physics involving some form of gradient: absent external influences, money will tend to flow from the gullible to the unscrupulous.

    The right price, so theories say,
    Is just what the sucker client will pay:
    When accepting the charge
    He commits, by and large,
    An auto-auto-da-fé.

  3. Die Anyway says

    Twenty dollars is less than the price of a movie ticket and popcorn? Damn. Been a while since I went to a movie.

    I’m torn between (a) ‘prosecuting for lying, cheating, coniving and deception’ and (b) ‘letting adults spend their money how they want’.
    As you say, it’s pretty obvious he has no power. Otherwise he could give his little friendly demonstrations for free and make millions at this job.

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