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Steam Powered Studio is an audio workshop currently located in Centerville just outside of Lancaster, PA.

Prior to this it was in the basement of a duplex in Hamilton Park. Before that it was in a small room on the third floor of that duplex, and way before that it was in a tiny room off a kitchen in a house in Paradise, PA, where it was known as Cat Ranch Studio.

It wouldn't be stretching the truth much to add a few more priors to this list, because my audio workshopping has been going on since sometime in the 1960's when I rigged a tape recorder microphone to my sister's Flying Saucer

flying saucer in an attempt to make a parabolic mic.

The Flying Saucer not being in the shape of an actual parabola, it didn't work so well.

But I have never let little things like that bug me. We tend to glorify inventors a bit much, I think. Fact is, I was once paid a visit by the world's foremost inventor...

11/22/04

Old Thom. Edison stopped by the other night. It was late, all the lights were burning.

"You know what that is," he says, pointing at a lamp. "That's electricity." With that, he unscrewed the bulb, wet his finger, and stuck it in the empty socket. Nothing happened.

"Of course, I'm no longer a corporeal being. That alternating stuff can kill you!" He flopped down in a chair by the stove. "Aether's mighty cold this time of season," he muttered, rubbing his incorporeal hands.

I asked him why he was honoring me with his presence. "Speak up!" he said. I had forgotten that as a young man he had dove into an icy river to pull out his little brother, who was drowning, and lost all the hearing in his left ear, and later in life was boxed on his right ear by the great boxer DiMaggio. I asked him again, louder.

"I'm here to clear up a few things," he replied. "I understand that my legacy is being misrepresented to the public. It is time to set things right."

I settled back- this seemed like it could take a while.

"Long ago, while seeking the secrets of the lamp, I created this "Edison", this public image, to keep the flunkies and the creditors off my back. "Menlo Park is a research lab,' I told 'em. 'I sometimes work 36 hours straight, taking naps on tables,' I said. "Invention is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration,' I said. Well I'm here to tell you now that it was a load of bunk!" Edison pounded the arm of his chair.

I was astonished. Surely the legend couldn't be false! Edison was a shining example of American Ingenuity and Fortitude, the Inventor of Inventors, a Beacon for men and women with Big Dreams...

"No," he continued, "It was all a ruse. Those 999 different attempts to create a working filiment? I had the answer the whole time, but I had to make it look good to the public. After all, who would have believed the truth?"

I leaned in. Edison sensed my expectation, and ever the showman, he drew out the moment, withdrawing an ancient pipe from his coat pocket and fiddling with the stem. Finally, he glanced up at me from beneath his furry brows and said "It's all magic!"

"Magic," I gasped. "Yes, magic," he replied, reading my lips. "Electric lighting, movies, the phonograph- all of them created merely by reciting certain spells. It's a gift from the ancient Babylonians." I looked carefully at his pipe. "No," he laughed, "there isn't any magic in my pipe. All it took was knowledge of the proper incantations and poof! The Light Bulb!"

"But what about Progress, Experimentation, the Scientific Method?" I shouted. He seemed to hear me, and shook his head slowly from side to side. "I'm sorry to be the one to disillusion you, my boy," he said, "but you're headed in the wrong direction chasing that stuff. Concentrate more on wishing... wishing... wishing..."

And with those words, he slowly dissolved back into the aether from whence he'd come.