Written & Illustrated by Tom Stone
A new book from Tom Stone is always reason for celebration, and Snapshots is no exception. The continually prolific Mr. Stone opens up his notebooks once again, sharing some marvelous ideas born of a brilliantly creative mind.
As an opening entry for the book I was initially disappointed with this item (note: initially). Tom describes it as a silly little trick for informal occasions and as much as I wanted to disagree I started out with the feeling that the assessment was pretty accurate. Basically, a matchbox drawer is pushed up allowing enough exposed space on the bottom of the drawer for the performer to scrawl an equation on one end. The spectator is asked to solve the equation, and when the drawer is pushed down far enough for the opposite end to reveal itself, we see the word correct! The drawer is then re-set, the spectator is asked to repeat the answer, and when the drawer is again pushed down to reveal its opposite end we see an entirely different answer scrawled in the place of the first one. Theres a third message which reveals itself upon intended inspection of the drawer, after the performer has tossed the matchbox onto the table, assuming that the spectator will snatch it up to examine it. After playing with this for a while I realized that the math equation was just one of a number of clever ideas that the method would support, and there is possibly an infinite number of effects that could be developed using a modified version of this idea. Right off the bat I worked out a few Mentalism effects and I can see that this is an item Ill be playing with and returning to frequently. Then there is the potential for marketing should the performer decide to have matchboxes printed with his or her contact information. So much potential
Time Operator I
This is a great card transposition effect that begs to become a marketed item. The short description is that two cards change places and one cards physical appearance is altered in the process. As cryptic as this next statement might sound to those who do not buy the book, it will surely make sense to those who do you will want to disregard the advice to use Krylon Fixatif, and use Krylon Matte Finish instead.
Packing for McComb
A clever idea for a production (or vanish) box made from a small suitcase. This is an extension on an idea by the late Billy McComb.
On the Dancing Cane
Admittedly I have not gone to the trouble of producing the modified cane required for this. Basically, it is a version of the dancing cane that requires some modifications which enable the performer to achieve a variety of enhanced performance nuances. On paper it sounds terrific and very clearly thought out. The idea of a displaced center of gravity is brilliant, and could very likely be transferred to a wide variety of apparatus. More enjoyable than the discovery of this idea is the page that follows the initial description. Titled Areas for further research, Tom then takes us down the path of experimentation as he attempts to build an internal, motorized gyroscopic device to prevent the cane from tilting over during performance. Details of the work that went into the prototypes, and formulaic rationale for some of the decisions made, leads us deeper into the mind of the man behind some of the most creative ideas in modern magic.
The Resonance Theory
A brilliant performance theory that delves into (and examines the psychology of) building a crescendo-like reaction among a small group of spectators. This one item is worth far more than the price of the book.
Challenge in Silks
What begins as an autobiographical anecdote turns into an explanation of the reconstruction and on-going development of a Topper Martyn routine (based on an item by Raymond Beebe) that served as a profound childhood inspiration to a young and introverted Tom Stone, awakening his passion for magic. But its not that simple
The routine, as performed by Martyn, was ill matched for Toms character as a performer, but that wasnt enough to deter him from creating a suitable adaptation. What follows are six of the most enjoyable and fascinating pages in the book, outlining everything from remaining faithful to the character choices a performer has made, to the development of dramatic context and creation of scenarios that might lead a character to behave uncharacteristically. Ultimately, Tom discovers a solution that allows him to perform the routine without breech of character, and we are then treated to an exceptionally inventive recreation of the original routine. Not only are we treated to the details of the potential construction of the necessary gimmick, we are also offered a peek at the actual prototype constructed by Tom. As ugly as it seems, it is a true thing of beauty. Just another glimpse into the mind of a genius.
The book closes with four perfectly clever methods for producing loads. The first two are probably too complex for me to even consider (due to their design and my ineptitude) but the latter two ideas are pure gold. One in particular (the idea for cups and balls) is, again, worth more than the price of the book.
In between the fully fleshed out routines are the usual collection of now familiar items, From the notebooks. There is an in-the-multiple-spectators-hands electromagnetic matrix, a positively hysterical idea for Mentalism using the electronic swipe cards used to unlock hotel room doors, an odd tribute to the bowling ball production from briefcase, and a few other bits and pieces which collectively act as thought provoking segues from one routine to the next. Tom Stone continues to command my full attention, and with the release of each new collection of thoughts, ideas and routines the art of magic is taken one step forward.