Sunday, August 11, 2019

APPLE TREES AND APPLE PIES





This is a picture of an apple.  Well, several apples actually.  I know, I know, they LOOK like pears, but trust me, they’re apples.  I grew them.  I know exactly what they are.  Trust me.  They are apples.  Eight years ago I planted the tree that grew them in my front yard.  They’re apples.  

Sometime around 1960, my Mom and Dad married.  Newlyweds do lots of things.  But mostly, they figure out how to live in really close proximity to a person they don’t know very well and they look for ways to make their new partner’s life better.  My newlywed Mom decided she’d try to cook “just like my dad's mom”.  She asked my dad, “What was the favorite thing your mom cooked for you?”  He thought a moment, and responded, “You know, Mama used to bake the most amazing apple pie.  I’d love to have that again.  I haven’t had it since I was a kid. Could you try and bake that?” 

Challenge accepted.  My Mom dove right in to making my Grandmothers’ excellent apple pie for her newlywed husband.  Now, apple pie (made from scratch) is pretty simple.  It’s time-consuming but it’s not hard to make.  Easy win, or so my Mom thought.  She got everything together to bake a “home-made” apple pie for her new husband.  She mixed.  She baked.  She served.  She waited.  My dad’s response?  “Oh this is really good apple pie, Honey, but it’s not as good as my Mom’s apple pie.”  My Mom thought, “Rats… I’ll try again”.  So she did.  Same result.  Good, but not as good as my Grandmothers’ apple pie.  One more try.  Same result.  Good, but not as good. 

Frustrated, my Mom took the problem straight to the source.  She phoned my grandmother up and said, “I’m trying to make your special apple pie for Will, but I just can’t seem to get it right.  Did you have some kind of “secret ingredient” or “bake it in some special way”?   My grandmother (a gentle and very very kind person) began to laugh.  She laughed out loud.  She said, “Betty… you will NEVER be able to make my apple pie.”  My mother was taken-a-back by this response.  My grandmother continued, she paused to catch her breath, "Because I never used apples.  I used pears.  Years and years ago, a traveling salesman broke a wheel near our home, we fixed it for him, and he paid us back with pear tree saplings.  When Wilbur (pronounced Wil-Bu if you’re from south Alabama) was a boy, he didn’t like pears.  He wouldn’t eat pears, but I didn’t have anything but pears to bake pies with, so I told him a little tiny “white lie”.  I told him the pear pie was an apple pie.   He loved those pies. I never had the heart to tell him otherwise.”  

Years and years passed, as did (eventually) my dad.  And my mother would dust-off this old family story from her mental filing cabinet of happy memories and share it with us kids.  We’d all get a great laugh out of it too.  She loved telling that story, and she was good at it. 

More years and years passed, and eventually she passed too. 

Sometimes a pear tree is not a pear tree at all, it’s an apple tree.  It’s an apple tree that is keeping alive a story about real people that lived their lives the best they could, about family mythology, about newlywed bonds strengthened, about laughter, love, a little white lie, and a much loved Grandmothers’ pie.  

So… every time I walk past that pear tree in my front yard nowadays… those people, that story, that love, that laughter, that history, that moment in time, all come to life for me.  

So, to me, it’s always going to be an apple tree, it can’t be anything else.  Know what?  I think I’ll go bake a pie.   Want some apple pie?


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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

THANK YOU MARTHA GRAHAM FOR THE REMINDER

In my opinion, this is true for EVERYONE (dancers, artists, engineers, dads, moms, scientists, bus drivers, school teachers, lawyers, child advocates, computer programmers), it's not your job to judge your contribution to the world. You are required - ONLY - to create THE WORK, your art, your love, your life - your unique set of "things that ONLY you can bring to the world". We judge ourselves harshly (I'm very guilty of this). We compare ourselves harshly. (I'm very guilty of this). Our job is to bring to the world that "thing" that only WE can bring. That "thing" that no one else can. Do that. Do that - to your fullest capacity - and then... be satisfied. Thank you for the reminder... Martha Graham. #marthagraham

Sunday, July 14, 2019

THE GORILLA ON MY BOOKSHELF




I don’t remember ever seeing this. But, it's in plain sight.
It’s on the first page of one of my FAVORITE MAGIC BOOKS… Volume #3 of THE TARBELL COURSE IN MAGIC by Harlan Tarbell.


It’s there, but I noticed it for the first time… two days ago.


When I was a young magician, I wanted to “know” everything possible about magic. I was told that The Tarbell Course in Magic was “the way to go”. It was an 8 volume compilation of a magic correspondence course that Dr. Harlan Tarbell has written, illustrated, collected, and produced. The course is PACKED with lots and lots and lots of magic. The first edition was printed in… 1927. It was very good. It was also very expensive! So I set my “eyes on the prize”. Get those books.


I collected my pennies and purchased the entire set somewhere around 1979 or 1980 or 1981 (my set was used and printed in 1948) from a gruff (and I found hilarious Magic Equipment Dealer) named Paul Diamond. Each volume is filled with great illustrations and even better explanations of magical effects. I LOVED it instantly. When I got the books home from Florida State Magician’s Convention, I dove in to my studies.


What’s interesting to me now, is that I NEVER noticed that I had an autographed copy by the author – Harlan Tarbell.


I was so engaged with the tricks, I never even saw the signature. It’s possible that I saw it and because it wasn’t important to me, I didn’t remember it. This makes me think that it’s similar to the "Invisible Gorilla" phenomena. An awareness test from Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris about focus and inattentiveness. The concept is covered in their book THE INVISIBLE GORRILLA (which is a very good book as well). Here’s a link to the experiment.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo


The idea behind this experiment is that when keenly focused, we ignore (sometimes) very obvious stuff.


This seems to be the case with my Harlan Tarbell autographed book. I was LOCKED with lazer-like-focus to learn magic. The idea that the author had signed the book made no difference to me at all… consequently… I didn’t even realize he had.


I recently finished the first season of a national kids science show for PBS. The show is a combination of magic tricks and science ideas. I’m super proud of it. It’s called STEVE TRASH SCIENCE. I co-produced it in partnership with Alabama Public Television. During the 11 months of writing, shooting, producing, and creating it, I got in the habit of waking up VERY early (3:00-3:30am) each morning to get stuff done before I had to do my shows for that day. As I said, I’ve finished work on season one of the show, but I’ve continued to get up early, all the same. But now I’ve been getting up and relaxing on my front porch. I read some books for fun and watch the sun rise. It’s been a real pleasure.


A couple of days ago, I grabbed Volume #3 and sat down on the front porch for a read. The book flopped open. There was the autograph. Wait… what? Harlan Tarbell has signed my book printed in 1948? Yes? Cool. Basically… it was the Invisible Gorilla… in book form.


Our minds are wonderful things, but they are focus-able, fallible, and maybe even a little feeble. For me, this is a reminder to always attempt to remain humble about what I believe and think to be true, cause I miss a lot.


Oh yes… and… guess what? I have an autographed copy of Tarbell. Cool right?


#ibm #magician #invisibleorilla #tarbellcourse #magicbooks #selectiveattention #stevetrash #lifelonglearner #porchreader #harlantarbell #magic #tricks #internationalbrotherhoodofmagicians #convention #floridamagicians #pauldiamond #danielsimons #chrischabris #inattentionalblindness #louistannen #keithhalbasch

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

THE PBS APP - GET IT AND WATCH STEVE TRASH

We KNOW that kids love their digital media!  We ALSO know that they prefer to watch this media on their own mobile devices (tablets, ipods, cell phones, mobile phones, ipads), so that's exactly how we created the new PBS kids science show - STEVE TRASH SCIENCE... REAL SCIENCE... REAL FUNNY.   We shot it for this type of viewing.  It's so exciting to me that my show is NOW ON ALL SORTS of mobile media platforms and kids can access it on... YouTube, Roku, Chromecast, AppleTV, the Alabama Public Television app, and (best of all) the PBS app.    That's right.  My show... Steve Trash Science can be watched on the PBS app.  Download the app for free.  Search "Steve Trash" and we'll pop right up.  Watch and Enjoy!  It's really true.  I couldn't be happier that Public Television is the HOME for this wonderful project.  I've been a fan of PBS for so many years that it just "feels" right.  Check it out if you get a moment.  Thanks.  Steve :) #pbs #stevetrashscience #stem #steam #magic #magician #magicvsscience #stevetrash #rockinecohero #begoodbeamazingdontbemean #apt #alabamapublictelevision

A FROG POND STORY

The mailbox was old and needed to be replaced (there were now new homeowners and the door of the mailbox had completely rusted off)... So the new owner kindly gave it to our family as a keepsake/family memory (it had been the Art Goddesses' - Grandmother and Grandfather's home and mailbox for years and years and years).  Over this past year or so, I had noticed that even though the house was "vacant", the mailbox was not "vacant" (I jog past it every day).  A bird had taken up residence... nested... laid eggs... made baby birds.  So I decided I'd plant this mailbox in a garden right in front of our home, in the hopes that a new bird family might find a home here, with us, at our home.   But, to make this happen, I needed something that I didn't have.  A mailbox needs a post.  It's needs a good, strong, solid post.  It needs a post preferably cedar (cedar is a very solid, solid, solid, hardwood that will last many years buried in the ground).  So I went searching.  The first few posts I found weren't very solid (pine mostly).  Finally... I found a cedar post.  It was just the right size.  It was just the right material... cedar.   It had been leaning against our "horse barn" for years and years.   In fact, it had originally been the "gate fence" post that kept the horses (Frisky, Dave, Apache) in the field just above our house.  This post had family history too.  It had been cut, nailed, buried, and secured in place by the Art Goddess and her kids (Jennifer, Aaron, and Emily) when they first moved onto this land in the early 1980's.  Because we no longer have horses and the field has been reclaimed by nature... I'd pulled that post out of the ground to make way for a tractor several years ago... It had been waiting patiently for some grand new purpose.  Yesterday, I found that purpose.  A family post, with a family mailbox, for a family to live in.  #sometimesitsthemeaningyougivestuffthatmakesyousmile  #lifeisgood  #frogpondfamily #sweethomealabama #frogpondsstyle

Monday, June 3, 2019


Coming to Public Television

Alabama Public Television is excited to partner with Concrete Dream Inc./Steve Trash on a new show for children ages 6-10 that makes science fun. STEVE TRASH SCIENCE will be a weekly 30-minute series airing Saturday mornings  on Alabama Public Television beginning in June 15, 2019.

Rockin' Eco Hero Steve Trash® has entertained more than 25 million people since 1984. He's appeared on CBS, ESPN, CNBC, HLN, and VH1. Steve travels the world, bringing his unique brand of ecomagic to theatres, fairs, and festivals in many other countries including Japan, Australia, Canada, Portugal, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

In his magic show, Steve Trash teaches kids about recycling using a combination of fun – and funny – magic routines that engage, entertain, and educate. Essentially, the show is all about environmental science, which the magician has been studying for decades. Steve Trash Science will take this act to television, exploring themes including ecosystems, food chains, soils, weather and climate, solar energy and more.

STEVE TRASH SCIENCE is designed for use in the classroom as well as at home. Episodes have been developed to follow school curriculum standards for science, with teachers involved as advisors in the production process. Online resources including suggested science activities for STEVE TRASH SCIENCE will complement program videos.

Like the best public television children’s programs, STEVE TRASH SCIENCE will engage parents as well as children. This is important because it encourages parents to talk with kids about what they’re watching, and possibly reinforce what they’ve learned with reading and other activities. Parents can easily access APT’s online videos and science activities.

APT is offering STEVE TRASH SCIENCE  to other public stations that need strong science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content for children. The program will be distributed to PBS stations across the U.S. by the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA).


#stevetrashscience #science #stem #steam #stevetrash #realsciencerealfunny #sciencevsmagic 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

SATURDAY MORNINGS AT 10AM

It's official... if you live in Alabama... you'll be able to tune in to STEVE TRASH SCIENCE - SATURDAY MORNINGS - on Alabama Public Television starting this June 15th.  Did you get that? Starting in June... Saturday mornings... at 10am... your old pal Steve Trash will be performing magic, explaining science, and doing funny things RIGHT ON YOUR TV (if you don't live in Alabama check your local listings we're distributed NATIONWIDE by NETA to all PBS stations). Tune in and be a part of the fun.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

PBS IS MY HOME

I've always had a VERY SPECIAL place in my heart for PBS.  It's always felt like "home" to me.  When I was a kid, I loved MR ROGERS, ELECTRIC COMPANY, and SESAME STREET.   Those characters, ideas, and stories came into my physical home (through my TV) and they took root in my heart and soul.   They became a part of me.  When I grew older I became passionate about DOWNTON ABBEY,  THIS OLD HOUSE, NOVA, and the PBS NEWS HOUR.   Along my life's journey (56 years strong) I've been lucky enough to tour the world (Japan, Australia, Canada, Portugal, Spain, UAE and all 50 US states).  I've gotten to share my passion for the environment, science, magic tricks, recycled music, and funny stuff, in thousands of LIVE performances.   I LOVE doing this.  I love interacting with REAL people, in REAL time, in a REAL moment, but I've always felt that I could do more.  I've always felt that I could be better.  I've always felt that I could do more good.  I've always felt that I could have a greater positive impact.  Last year, I got my chance.  The opportunity walked right into my life and basically said to me, "hey... here's the deal... work longer... work harder... work more... work through sickness... take larger financial risks....and you can have EXACTLY what you've been dreaming of."  So I puzzled over this for about two seconds and... then... I JUMPED RIGHT IN.  With the guidance and support of the AMAZING executive staff at ALABAMA PUBLIC TELEVISION, we began a partnership to create something so special that it met (or exceeded) the "best of the best" on PBS.  I believe we've done it, or at least... we've gotten really close.   STEVE TRASH SCIENCE is a mashup of STEM (or STEAM) ideas and CHARACTER EDUCATION ideas,  MAGIC TRICKS, silly MUSIC VIDEOS, and tons of FUNNY STUFF.  With the help of the Art Goddess, a dog that listens to me fuss without telling me to "shut up and just throw the ball" and a flexible and excellent production team we made it happen.   SEASON ONE of STEVE TRASH SCIENCE is ready to roll out this JUNE.  Thanks also to the excellent staff at NETA - National Educational Telecommunications Association - for first understanding what we were doing,  and then, for working very very quickly to make us available for broadcast to ALL PBS stations across the US... Yeah... NATIONWIDE... baby!   Steve Trash now has a home on Alabama Public Television - and PBS stations across the nation.  I'm very happy about that.  It totally "feels" right.  Do you want to help keep a "safe place" for kids that FEELS LIKE HOME?  Do you want good, positive stories to come into your kid or grand-kids heart (through their TV, tablet, smart TV, or other electronic device), then you gotta share the love.  Go to your local PBS station and donate.  The DONATE BUTTON is usually the biggest button on the web site.  It's that way because they live off of our support.  I've been donating my whole adult life.  Do it.  It will help keep excellent programs on the air (like mine).  Do it for kids like me.  - Steve :)

Friday, February 1, 2019

THEME MUSIC... ARE YOU KIDDING?


THEME MUSIC - Immediately after I got the FULL-TILT-WE-ARE-GO-GREEN-LIGHT-YOU-NOW-HAVE-A-DEADLINE-TO-DO-ALL-THIS from Alabama Public Television, I started the process of figuring out what EXACTLY my kids science tv show would LOOK and SOUND like. I had TONS of ideas. A friend of mine (who's a famous puppeteer and she had an even MORE FAMOUS puppeteer mom) gave me some very very GOOD advice. She (my friend) had won an Emmy for producing her Mom's kid TV show and she had some valuable insights into what makes a very good show for kids. One of the SUPER VALUABLE things she brought to my attention was the need for a THEME SONG that holds all the elements of a show together. I LOVE music, and it's a super-duper-important part of my shows, but I'd never really considered having a theme that could weave in and out of the whole episode. Realizing that there are "smart people" out there that want to help me MAKE GOOD STUFF, I remained open to this idea. The idea that I could have a STEVE TRASH SCIENCE THEME song stayed in the back of my mind as I toured and brainstormed the show. Months pass... and... Low and Behold... A professional musician, composer, and Bon Vi Vont... appeared in my life. Composer - Mark Pettey - had recently moved back to Alabama after a lifetime of globetrotting with various famous bands. He was open to creating something for the show. He was talented, smart, and willing to "give it a whirl". As he composed various ideas, I'd drop them into the timeline (of the video) and we'd see what worked and what did not work.  My original ideas simply did not work.  He’d make something and I’d put it in the timeline and I’d say… “you know… that’s what I asked for, but it TOTALLY does not work”.  And we’d try something else.  Eventually (through a bunch of trial and error) we came to a song that I'm simply OVER THE MOON happy with.   It’s so cool to call this song… the official - STEVE TRASH SCIENCE THEME SONG. It's actually got a bit of a Charlie Brown/Vince Guaraldi and Miles Davis Trio vibe to it, but MAKE NO MISTAKE... it totally rocks. As stressful and fear-inducing as the process of producing a TV show has been (and can be) I'm grateful for the many creatives that have made this project ROCK.  Thank you Mallory!  Thank you Mark for bringing some music magic to this project!  And now... onward... I've got to spend the next five hours making editing notes for my beloved editor.... Jim. Peace.   Oh yeah… By the way... in the picture… Mark is the one with the trumpet... I don't know who the other guy is. :) #thememusic #music #vinceguaraldi #milesdavis #stevetrashscience #apt #pbs #science #magicvsscience #sciencevsmagic #lambchop #sharilewis #mallorylewis #puppeteer #puppet Mark Pettey​ Mallory Lewis​