Having studied Tracking Mr. Fogg, and having corresponded with Tom a little bit to get inside his head, so to speak, I jumped on Skerries and have already read it several times. Like Mr. Fogg, this is a really well-produced little manuscript. While its subtitled A Collection of Nonsense, I thought it might better be described as a collection of absurdities. Magic always relies on absurdity on some level, and this group of ideas represents some thoughts and devices that I think can augment just about any performance, helping to round out the picture of a magician who may or may not be in control of his magic. The front items, DStruction and Electro-Cute are perfect examples of this.
Theres a small bit called Gap Drive which is an unusual way to produce a coin, but it seems it can also be quite surprising. Tom doesnt carry the line of thought further than the production itself, but Im willing to bet that it can be incorporated in some longer pieces here and there.
This is followed by a strange bit called Going Bananas, a two-person stage interlude thats somewhat ridiculous but with a good payoff. I can see this being stuck in the middle of a show just as one of those pieces that engage the audience for a moment before you really hit them with your next solid routine. Its more like a rest stop, and as nutty as it reads, it contains a subtle idea or two.
But the item Tom calls What The? caught my eye, and I can see myself doing it, even though I dont smoke. In effect, you take out a cigarette, place it between your lips, pick up your lighter, try to strike the wheel, only to realize that youre striking the cigarette. Then the audience notices that you have your lighter in your mouth. Tom stops there, but for some reason, I envision this as a good bit in the middle of a show. Right after a strong effect, you say you need a break. Taking out your pack of cigarettes and lighter, you put the cigarette in your mouth, try to light it with the lighter, and theyve changed places. Then the lighter vanishes, and you say, Oh, well, breaks over anyway, just before you apparently shove the cigarette up your nose. Had to hurry that up and get on with it, you say as you pick up your cards or whatever and continue your show.
Tom then introduces a great little gag where a spoon jumpsno, leaps out of a cup. Tom offers two nice little scenarios with this bit.
Next, we have a ring and rope maneuver that would fit in just about any routine. A spectators ring is threaded on the rope and placed in the spectators hand. When he opens it, he finds that hes holding instead a different (and possibly crappy-looking) ring altogether. He also explains a nice little touch with the ring box.
Poltergeist is something that NO ONE here will do, but its a cool idea, just the same. Its not so much a magic trick as it is a practical joke -- and a rather bizarre one at that. A visitor picks up a book on poltergeists from your shelf, and as he opens it, some object flies off a ledge and smashes to pieces on the floor. Shudders.
Salt-X-Change is next, and this is indeed a finished item, ready to go for performance. I like it quite a bit, and its pretty darned clever. You have a salt shaker (with salt within) on the table and a white silk. The silk is placed in your left hand, and it turns to salt. The shaker is opened, and the silk is pulled from within. The effect is good, and the method is clever as hell.
Subliminal Persuasion is a great magical comedy bit where you show all the faces and backs of a deck of playing cards. Then the faces turn blank and on every card is a message of your choice. Tom points out that this is a good item for trade shows and the like, and I agree.
Then comes Giudichara bizarrish piece thats akin to a living/dead test, but here you discern the one truth from a set of lies. Like much of Toms work, Im learning, the method is clever as all get-out.
Lastly, Tom presents The Aleph Deck, a principle in search of an effect. Picture Svengali shaking hands with Norman Gilbreath. Ill say no more.
Im a big fan of using some humor in writing what would otherwise be dry text, and Toms light-hearted character shows through at times all through the book. Yes, its a small collection of whimsical ideas, but several are immediately usable and the rest open many doors. For a paltry 12 bucks, I feel like I got MY moneys worth.