Houdini: Escaping the Womb 141 Years Ago Today

By Tom Interval

Harry Houdini, ca 1899 (Photo: Library of Congress)

Harry Houdini, ca 1899 (Photo: Library of Congress)

On March 24, 1874, magic’s most legendary entertainer was born: Erik Weisz.

Four years after his birth in Budapest, Erik and his family moved to the United States, where the toddler’s name was Americanized to Ehrich Weiss.

Around 1890, young Ehrich adopted the name Harry Houdini—”Harry,” from “Ehrie” (a family pet name), and “Houdini,” from Ehrich’s childhood hero, French conjurer Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin.

To see pictures of Houdini’s birthplace in Budapest (Rákosárok utca 1. sz., a street now known as Csengery utca), read my March 24, 2014 blog.

To learn more about Houdini, I recommend starting with this biography (probably the most accurate one so far):  Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss, by Kenneth Silverman.

In the mean time, be sure to toast Harry on his special day.

 

 

Posted in Misc | 1 Comment

Houdini Illusion Color-Changing Mug

By Tom Interval

Okay, so you have to check out this mug—one of the coolest out there (see the 1 min. 49 sec. embedded video below). Yes, I’m a bit biased since I’m the one offering it on the Interval Magic CafePress Store. However, I make next to nothing on these since I’m only the designer and not the actual manufacturer or distributor.

Long story longer, people like me who know a thing or two about graphic-design programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator can make original custom designs and upload them to websites such as CafePress or Zazzle, which distribute customized T-shirts, mugs, clocks, mouse pads, and more.

Anyway, my Houdini two-face optical illusion is now available on the very magical color-changing mug featured in the following video. Enjoy! (And while you’re at it, feel free to buy a mug to support creative artists like me. Wink.)

Posted in Art, Mugs, Optical Illusions, Photoshop Art, Products | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Robert-Houdin: Dec. 6, 1805

By Tom Interval

I meant to post this image on Saturday. On that day 209 years ago, the pioneering French conjurer, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, was born. Robert-Houdin is known as the “father of modern magic” and is the man whose name young Ehrich Weiss would borrow 85 years later to become Harry Houdini.

Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Father of Modern Magic, Dec. 6, 1805-June 13, 1871

Posted in Anniversaries, Robert-Houdin, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Memory of Harry Houdini

In Memory of Harry Houdini

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern 2014

By Tom Interval

For this year’s Houdini jack-o’-lantern, I wanted to make a scary version of Houdini’s face. It’s not perfect, but I think I’ve accomplished the scary part. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Halloween week (a.k.a., National Magic Week)!

Houdini Jack-o'-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Houdini Jack-o'-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Art, Halloween, Holidays, Sculptures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houdini’s Voice Recorded 100 Years Ago Today

By Tom Interval

It was exactly 100 years ago today that Houdini recorded his voice on Edison wax cylinders. This particular version is one I put together a couple of years ago. It’s about 3½ minutes long and is different from the standard version you’ll find online. Although the cylinders were made on October 29, 1914, they weren’t found until 1970. Watch the video for details. Happy Houdini Voice Day!

Posted in Anniversaries, Audio, Multimedia, Videos, Voice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houdini in The New York Times Turns 10: Its Origin and Future

By Tom Interval

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Houdini in The New York Times, a website housing more than 125 articles and letters in The New York Times written by or about Harry Houdini. Please enjoy this brief history of the site and stay tuned for further updates regarding its future.

A clipping from The New York Times

A clipping from The New York Times

Have you ever browsed the old Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature? It was one of my favorite references in my alma mater’s library, and Houdini was the first thing I looked up in those massive green volumes.

Houdini-related articles were in abundance, and many appeared in The New York Times, which isn’t surprising considering Houdini lived in New York City for the greater part of his life.

As you might recall from the pre-Internet days, to view articles listed in the Readers’ Guide, you had to first find them on microfilm, then view the film on a microfilm reader.

The original Houdini in The New York Times, in binder form

The original Houdini in The New York Times, in binder form

For whatever reason, I fixated on the Times articles about Houdini and listed in a notebook everything I could find. Over the course of several months, I found every last article on film and printed a copy of each, storing them in a binder I titled, Harry Houdini in The New York Times. That was back in 1997, and the binder lived among my Houdini books for the next seven years.

With the advent of the World Wide Web, I learned to create simple websites by studying a beginner’s book on web design. Not too long after that, I developed my first significant website: Interval Magic: intervalmagic.com (see the original archived version on the Internet Archive).

Pages of the Houdini in The New York Times binder

Pages of the original Houdini in The New York Times, in binder form

With the Interval Magic site under my belt, I decided to build a website all about Houdini, my childhood hero. My original goal was to create a virtual Houdini museum of sorts, calling it Houdini Museum, which would include biographical information, news clippings, images, videos, audio, reference materials, and some personal photos from my trips to Houdini’s gravesite, the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, and the Library of Congress, where the majority of Houdini’s literature collection resides. I quickly purchased the domain houdinimuseum.org and got to work.

Clipping from The New York Times

Clipping from The New York Times

Realizing how time-consuming making the website would be, I decided, in the mean time, to post The New York Times articles I collected seven years earlier. After hand-keying more than 125 Times articles and letters and designing what was meant to be a temporary website, I launched Houdini in The New York Times in the Spring of 2004.

The site is a wonderful free (and ad-free) resource for Houdini researchers and enthusiasts, but it’s not the comprehensive Houdini site I had once planned. Now well into its 10th year, Houdini in The New York Times hasn’t changed much, but please stay tuned because I haven’t abandoned the original plan.

Visit Houdini in The New York Times!

Please visit Houdini in The New York Times!

While my original idea for the site hasn’t seen the light of day yet, I’ve been working on it sporadically (albeit as slow as a snail crawling in tar) as I keep this blog active and plan to launch a completely revamped houdinimuseum.org in the near future. The new site will still include the Times material, but that will be only one small part of it.

I’ll say no more; however, in the months ahead, please follow this blog and accompanying Facebook page and look for teasers and announcements, which will include more info on the site’s content and an actual launch date. Until then, please enjoy Houdini in The New York Times as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

 

 

 

Posted in Anniversaries, Collections, Digital, Houdini in The New York Times, Houdini in The New York Times, Letters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments