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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Story help for Telekinetic Timber (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Shawn Farquhar
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Hi Guys,

I'm not really a spooky and mysterious kind of guy, but I have an upcoming gig where I need to do something in that genre. As many of you might know I own the rights and hand-make the Bob Koch Telekentic Timbers for Palmer Magic. I think this is the perfect effect for the gig I'm doing. I tried the presentation a lot during the recent IBM convention in Scottsdale last week and it was well-received but I think it can be better. I love to story tell and I love to try to stick close to as many facts as possible while performing. I hoping some of you might have suggestions to add to the "facts" of the Winchester Mansion. With the recent release of the major motion picture, a horror film, I think this will land well with my audience. If you have a moment, perhaps you can suggest a line or two to up the tension when I present the effect. As you most likely know the block is self-working so I have all the time in the world to work on the presentation.

Heres what I have so far:

Proposed storyline:

The Winchester Mansion in San Jose, California, that was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester is located at 525 South Winchester Blvd. in San Jose, California. The Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion is renowned for its size, its architectural curiosities, and its lack of any master building plan. It is a designated California historical landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since its construction in 1884, the property and mansion were claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles. Sarah felt that as long as the mansion was being built, no spirits could harm her. Under Winchester’s day-to-day guidance, its “from-the-ground-up” construction proceeded around the clock. That was until September 5, 1922, when a workers disagreement led to the foreman picking up a beer, toasting Sarah, and then setting it down next to a pile of lumber and walking off the work site while telling her she could do the building herself. Sarah Winchester died September 5, 1922, just minutes after the construction ceased.

Using a bottle and one of those unused pieces of wood I will now demonstrate that the spirits still reside in and around the Winchester Mansion!

* I like the presentation so much already I have added it to the product page on my website! lol

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might offer.

Shawn Farquhar
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Proof I'm not very spooky, here's my current presentation with a Star Wars theme.

I saw this trailer for the Winchester Mansion horror film and knew it was a great fit.
Just watching the wood dropping in the hallways had me feeling creepy!

Wizard of Oz
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I really like the story line, as it's not so over the top as to be unbelievable.

Have you been to the house? It is a very disconcerting building. After we went to the house a couple of years ago I shared the experience with friends and colleagues, and was taken aback by how many folks had never heard about the mansion, let alone the Winchester rifle...which you may also want to briefly mention, as younger folks may not have a clue! It was marketed as "The Gun That Won the West."

I would suggest doing a bit more research on some of the house's oddities and peppering them into your story for those who may have no clue how bizarre this structure is. Look at photos which may help you describe the details.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Shawn Farquhar
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I love the line "The Gun That Won the West.", and yes more about the house and the stairs that lead nowhere!
Thanks for two great additions.
Lo Pan
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I grew up on the East Coast and had a grandmother who collected certain mysterious items over the years, ouiji boards, fortune-telling cards and the like – one of the items that she had was a small timber from the remains of a burned down witches coven house which is bestowed with the magic resonance of all the rites and spells performed within. My haunted k3y is the original key to that doomed house and so fits nicely into the story line.
Dr. O
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During renovations of older portions of the mansion workers were sternly warned NOT to take anything away from the job site. Any of the old materials were to be burned on site for disposal. Through various means I was able to obtain this.....
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Timbers from a Dunking Chair used to discern witches, later used to build a house.
George Hunter
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I like your story line, a lot. I agree with the suggestion that you give a little more background, for those who do not already know about the rifle or the home or Mrs. Winchester. For the people who have seen the movie, your current draft is a winner.

I watched the trailer. In some settings, could you show THAT to prepare the audience?

Christopher Taylor
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Hello Shawn. You asked for advice so, please indulge me a moment or two while I get on my Storytelling High Horse: If you really care about the story and feel it's worth telling for its own sake, now that you have your story concept well in hand, why not turn it into a story with real power? You could use the ancient oral Storytelling process to turn it from a script into a story: Put down the pen and start TELLING the story. No crib notes allowed. Tell it to friends who will put up with you and listen. Watch their reactions. I don't mean the after-telling feedback; I mean their reactions as you tell it. You will discover the points that are the most important points to you and your listeners (the "meaning" hidden in the story); what you need to clarify and add extra emphasis to in order to make those points clear. Learn turns of phrase that make things pop. This is the ancient storytelling process that began before written language was even created. It's REALLY fun to look forward to and discovering how the story changes during each TELLING. At first the changes will be big; events will change order, charactors become more clear; then the changes get smaller and smaller. DO NOT record these changes. Keep the story alive in your mind. Finally, if you must, it will be ready to write it down for others to use. Ok, getting shakily down off my horse now. Cheers.

Christopher Taylor

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Hello Shawn:
You will find a lot of actually interesting details in the Winchester Mystery House that were overlooked in creating that Hollywood horror fest. Just a few examples:

All statues were placed facing away from the house to confuse ghosts and make them wander away. Likewise, Sarah never slept with the toes of her shoes facing the bed (an old superstition) but rather faced the heels towards the bed, again to lead ghosts away from where she slept.

Sarah had problems with rheumatism, and the stairs built for her rose only half the normal height and were twice the normal depth so she could stand with both feet on the tread before taking the next step. These stairs were later marketed as 'easy risers' for the elderly and other people with climbing difficulties. Because such staircases required a lot more length, they had to zigzag, like mountain switchbacks, to reach the next floor.

The number 13 recurs throughout the house: thirteen panels in doors, thirteen lozenges in cut-glass windows and chandeliers, etc.

Houdini visited the house (and his poster was still on display there in the 1970s, possibly still today).

Preparing for future expansion, many rooms have doors that open into walls or (dangerously) out over the yard, and staircases that run up to a blank ceiling.

The purpose of the building was to confuse the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles because a medium told Sarah that she had become the target of their anger and this was the only way to keep them from finding her.

Chris Taylor's points, above, are well taken, and these are just a few tidbits of interesting facts that can be woven together into a fascinating storytelling experience.

Best of luck to you. It is a wonderful idea and approach.

Philemon Vanderbeck
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Make sure that the bottle you use is appropriate for the period.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
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