Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern

By Tom Interval

Each year I carve a different Houdini-themed jack-o’-lantern, so here’s 2018’s offering.  If you’d like to know how I did this, the basic steps follow; below them are links to previous Houdini jack-o’-lanterns, which you can view on my Houdini blog. Happy Halloween!


As mentioned above, here are the steps I took to make this particular jack-o’-lantern.

  1. Select an image.
  2. Increase the image’s contrast and customize it for carving.
  3. Print the design template and trace its outline.
  4. Okay, we have everything we need (pumpkin-carving tools out of frame).
  5. Clean and gut the pumpkin.
  6. Tape the template to the pumpkin.
  7. Use a safety pin to transfer the design to the pumpkin.
  8. Use pumpkin-carving tools to carefully carve out the design.

To see my Houdini jack-o’-lanterns from previous years, click or tap on the following links:






None for 2016


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Obsessed with Magic Since the 1970s

By Tom Interval

Mark Wilson, Nani Darnell Wilson, Bev Bergeron, stars of The Magic Land of Allakazam, 1960

Cast of Allakazam, 1960

What captured your imagination as a child? For me, it was magic.

About six years before I sprang from the womb, a young illusionist named Mark Wilson developed The Magic Land of Allakazam, the first magic show to be videotaped and syndicated. The show, which ran for four years on CBS and ABC, precipitated a resurgence of magic.

Marshall Brodien with TV Magic Cards

Marshall Brodien

Although I was too young to remember Allakazam, I was ripe and ready to watch magic by the early 1970s. Around that time, Marshall Brodien, another, lesser-known, magician, pitched his TV Magic Cards on television. He deftly manipulated the deck with ease as he promised that I, too, could change an entire deck of different cards to 52 Aces of Spades.

I was hooked.

Bill Bixby in a promotional photo for The Magician, a 1970s TV series

Bill Bixby as The Magician

As the decade progressed, magic became a true obsession for me, thanks to even more magic on television, including a short-lived prime-time detective series starring Bill Bixby called The Magician and annual magic specials by Doug Henning and David Copperfield.

During this time, my parents gave me a magic kit, and I requested catalogs from magic suppliers such as the TV Magic Catalog Company, Abracadabra Magic Shop, Louis Tannen, and many more. I pored over those catalogs for hours at a time, and my mother bought me some inexpensive tricks from them. There was nothing better than getting a small package in the mail, especially when it contained magic.

Cover of TV Magic catalog, circa 1979

TV Magic Catalog, circa 1979

Reading as many magic books as I could get my hands on, I practiced a variety of tricks and sleight-of-hand moves for hours each day, often staying up all night. And thanks to my parents buying me some used magic supplies from a local magician called Seppak, I was able to piece together a raw, 30-minute act I could perform at children’s birthday parties.

I got my first paid gig when I was 12 years old, not much older than most of the audience members. I can still remember the euphoria I felt during that performance as I accomplished such feats as changing one ball into four and linking and unlinking eight solid steel rings.

Performing the Mismade Lady

Performing the Mismade Lady

It wasn’t too long after that when I joined the two main magic organizations in the United States, the Society of American Magicians (SAM) and the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), as well as a local magic club called the Mystic Magicians. I even attended a magic camp in New York and won a local magic contest when I was 18. At the same age, I taught my first magic class at a community college and started to offer private lessons to adults and children. Teaching turned out to be one of my favorite pursuits.

San Diego magician Tom Interval posing with a fanned deck of cards with a jumbo card protruding

Age 18

I got some gigs mostly at community and private events, performing everything from card tricks to the stage illusion of cutting a woman into fourths. While developing my technique and performing style, I studied the shows of many famous modern magicians, including Copperfield, Henning, Blackstone, and Wilson, all of whom I was fortunate enough to meet. I conducted more public and private magic classes and worked as a demonstrator at a local magic shop.

After successfully auditioning for Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia, I worked there full time for about a year as a resident magician, portraying a medieval conjurer, complete with a period costume and lousy British accent.

San Diego magician Tom Interval in his Busch Gardens costume

In silly Busch Gardens costume with even sillier mustache

While at Busch, I polished some of my favorite magic routines and newfound acting skills as I performed four to six magic shows each day. I also trained magic-shop employees and represented the park during a regional media tour, performing magic at hospitals and on a few local talk shows along the East Coast. I even got to introduce Mark Wilson before his performance on opening day.

The Busch contract ended, but I continued to perform magic semiprofessionally as I worked part time and attended college full time. I graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and minors in communications and management and worked full time as a writer and editor in the marketing-communications departments of two companies.

While doing those corporate gigs, I still performed and taught magic, published some instructional articles in a national magic trade journal, conceived and created a Houdini-related website, and had supporting roles in an independent film and sitcom.

Magician Tom Interval performing in San Diego

Tom Interval amazing someone

After moving to San Diego, I ultimately decided to pursue magic professionally again, registering the business and joining the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), The Magic Castle. I’m excited to say that, as of this writing, I’ve been doing business in this fine city for more than seven years.

This is where you enter the story.

If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re serious about either learning magic from me or booking me to perform at your personal or corporate event. Call me biased, but I think that’s a great idea, not only because I’d be honored to have your business but because I’m absolutely dedicated to providing you with the best possible service your money can buy.

My services include the following:

Performing: entertaining and mind-blowing close-up and stand-up magic for trade shows, sales meetings, company parties, community organizations, libraries, schools, wedding receptions, holiday gatherings, cocktail parties, birthdays, and more

Teaching: beginning to advanced private and public lessons for adults and children, with included props, follow-up summaries, and video tutorials

Speaking: interactive presentations about the performance, history, and science of magic and about the life and career of Harry Houdini

Interviewing: Interviews for print, broadcast, and online media about the performance, history, and science of magic and about the life and career of Harry Houdini and other magicians

Consulting: expert magic consultation for theater productions, television shows, film

Collaborating: collaboration with psychologists and neuroscientists regarding the psychology and neuroscience of magic

Publishing: researching, writing, and publishing projects relating to magic and magicians

Retailing: distribution of beginning to advanced magic tricks, books, and accessories

If you’d like more information about any of these services, please call me at 619-800-3780, or email me at tom@intervalmagic.com so we can discuss your needs. In the mean time, please browse my website, intervalmagic.com, and follow me @intervalmagic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I look forward to meeting you soon!





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San Diego magicians, magic shows, lessons, classes



Posted in Anthony Blake, Biographical, Harry Houdini, Interviews, Lessons, Magic Classes, Magicians, Mark Wilson, Online, Performances, Portrayals, Print, Radio, Services, Television, TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

James Randi 1982 Radio Interview at Cornell University

By Tom Interval

Photo of James Randi in his officeToday is magician and skeptic James Randi‘s 90th birthday, so I thought it would be appropriate to post a radio interview he gave 36 years ago during his visit to Cornell University to give a public lecture, demonstration, and seminars.

I’m not sure if Randi was there for more than one day, but on March 3, 1982, Joe Leeming, a publicist at Cornell who hosted a radio program at the time, interviewed him. As far as I know, this interview has not been heard since then. Chris Leeming, Joe’s son, was kind enough to provide me with the recording, and Cornell gave me permission to share it with the public.

It’s worth noting that Joe Leeming is the son of Joseph Leeming, a prolific author whose 10 instructional books on magic have appeared on the shelves of libraries around the world (he also wrote 49 other nonfiction books about a variety of topics, such as puzzles, games, crafts, ships, history, and business).

To listen to the Randi interview, click or touch the following link or play it in the embedded YouTube video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb3Wr1jNd_w.

Happy birthday, Randi!

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Beyond Reality Radio 2016 Interview

By Tom Interval

Portrait of Harry Houdini's faceA couple of years ago, Jason Hawes and JV Johnson of Beyond Reality Radio interviewed me about Harry Houdini and magic in general. In the weeks that followed, I had some trouble getting in touch with someone at BRR about obtaining permission to post the interview on YouTube. I didn’t have time to follow up and eventually dropped the magic ball. This week I decided to contact them again, and I’m happy to say they gave me permission. So if you have an hour and a half  to spare or know you’ll be working on a mundane project for that long and want some background noise, here’s the link, or you can play it from the embedded video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDrgkrcGEho.


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Another Address for Houdini

By Tom Interval

Harry Houdini, ca. 1896There are 11 residential addresses associated with Harry Houdini from 1878 to 1926, and I might have found another one. If you have time, and you love history as it relates to Houdini and magic, please check out my Houdini blog for details.

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Houdini on the Fourth of July 119 Years Ago

By Tom Interval

On the Fourth of July 119 years ago today, Harry Houdini performed at the Orpheum in Los Angeles. To see the newspaper announcement, check out my Houdini blog. Happy Fourth, everyone!


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Today is Harry Blackstone Jr.’s Birthday

By Tom Interval

Harry Blackstone, Jr. at TPC Communications, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, June 4, 1981. Photo by Jerry Interval. Copyright 2018 Tom Interval

Harry Blackstone Jr. at TPC Communications, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 4, 1981. Photo by Jerry Interval (copyright 2018 Tom Interval).

Eighty-four years ago today, classic illusionist Harry Blackstone Jr. was born in Three Rivers, Michigan. Harry, the son of The Great Blackstone, performed many of the same illusions his father passed down to him but with his own brand of showmanship adorned with an unmatched, full-toned voice that mesmerized his rapt audiences. Sadly, he died in 1997, but his memory saturates the Web. If you don’t know much about him, I highly recommend reading more and watching a video or two of him in action. And if you want, please read my memories of meeting him in 1981. In the mean time, here’s a video of him performing two of his classic pieces of magic I think you’ll enjoy. Happy birthday, Harry!


Copyright 2018 Tom Interval. All rights reserved.

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