My eye was caught by a small table set to the side, occupied by a pleasant-looking lady, an hourglass, some crystals, and a deck of cards. This was Valerie Drake: “psychic, medium, past life information, card reader, spiritual reader.” Full disclosure: I am a skeptic. Ideas such as telekinesis, astral travel, and psychic ability interest me, but I am not a believer – but what do I know? Maybe Valerie is the real thing. I decided that for the sake of journalism, I should give it a try.
I was determined to keep an open mind and approach it with a scientific mindset. The way a cold reading works is that the psychic will talk to the one being read, giving vague hints and searching for information and then following up based on the person's reaction. I decided to try to only answer direct questions and keep the reading as objective as possible.
We talked a little bit about my life – my wife, my daughter, my writing and filmmaking aspirations, my bartending job. She told me that I have a very empathetic aura and that that can sometimes cause me difficulty because I feel others' emotions too easily. She said I seem happy but a pain could be seen just behind my eyes, possibly something related to my family (this is actually not inaccurate – however, keeping a scientific mind, this kind of thing is a fairly safe bet). As for my goals as an amateur filmmaker, she informed me that I have a gift towards the darkly comic, and that heights should play a factor in my films. She told me I should watch for car trouble – something involving the alignment or the front wheels. On the subject of my wife, we discussed the dissatisfaction with her job and how the company she works for will probably soon go out of business. “But she doesn't actually want it to go out of business,” predicted Valerie, to which I replied, truthfully, “Oh, she very much does.” My wife is surrounded by fairy energy; also, I should be more romantic towards her. “But not with flowers; I don't think she is a flowers kind of woman.” Now, my wife actually loves flowers, but Valerie's next prediction was very interesting. Using the tarot deck, she unveiled The Hangman. Watch out, said Valerie, because one of your close friends doesn't have your best interests at heart. Maybe he is jealous of you, maybe he wishes you harm, or has romantic feelings towards your wife. The letter J came to mind, a short name starting with J (“Jay? Jake? Jeff”). I didn't tell her that one of my closest friends is named Jon.
The conversation continued for some time, much of it containing advice and predictions for myself and my family. I remain skeptical, but it was truthfully a lovely conversation which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Following my talk with Valerie, I headed back to the screening room to see Gut, a film whose trailer had so intrigued me that I had planned my evening around seeing it. It was a bit late getting started due to DVD troubles. The story follows Tom, an ordinary man who has become disconnected from his wife, his friends, and his work. His friend Dan shows him a DVD he ordered online: a snuff film where in which a woman is tied down and disemboweled. Tom can't get it out of his head and Dan becomes obsessed, ordering more DVDs, and they start to wonder if what they are seeing might actually be real.
While the idea presented is interesting – the snuff film is pretty clearly a metaphor for pornography – the film itself is devastatingly slow; not in a meditative and artistic way, but with shots that lingered way too long and scenes which didn't need to be included. It doesn't help that the dialogue is cliché and the acting unconvincing. I left disappointed.
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