Taking Machinations to Bob Neale

By Ben Harris - Monday, May 27, 2019


We all have magic heroes, folk who have influenced are thinking, understanding, and performance of magic. One of my heroes is Robert E. Neale, creator of the Trapdoor card, and an all round classy gentleman.

When one plays around with, adds, subtracts, alters or redirects the work of another, it is good form to both acknowledge the originator and to contact him/her for permission—or, as some would call it, "the originator's blessing." While this may cause some trepidation—the fear that the originator will dismiss your work and/or refuse permission to publish same—no such feelings were present with MACHINATIONS: only an excitement to share the new material.

Robert and I have worked briefly together in the past. We re-imagined the cover for his excellent CELEBRATION OF SIDES as part of Murphy's Magic massive rebranding of its DVD products in the 1990s. I was humbled and educated by Robert's kindness and creativity during the process. I had a feeling he'd love the new work with his amazing Trapdoor card.

The book was fully written, illustrated, and back from an initial edit when I decided it time to send along. I set it all up as a nice pdf and hit "send."

Fortunately for us all, Robert loved the directions presented in MACHINATIONS. In turn he contributed a lengthy Foreword (containing some brilliant ideas), and a Bonus effect for the book. This bonus, entitled “The Wad of Paper” is old school, relaxed, and has an emotional underbelly making it impactful. It also introduces a new way of executing the moves—an approach that is the antithesis of the more flashy presentations found elsewhere in the book. What a lovely way to finish MACHINATIONS—with the masterful mind and words of the gentleman who started it all!


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