“I Cannot Stop Listening”

Simon Brooks is an Englishman and fellow professional storyteller. He recently wrote a review of my latest epic audio story, Beowulf: The Only One. I’ve excerpted it below.

“Like all of his work, Odds Bodkin’s ‘Beowulf’is deep, funny, and brilliantly told. Odds’ version is entertaining and pulls you in so you cannot back away from it… I have listened to it several times. In fact I am at the point where I cannot start it unless I have the time to finish it all. I cannot stop listening to the words and music which flow so wonderfully throughout the hour and twenty minutes or so it lasts.”

Want a good story to listen to? Told for adults? You can listen to a sample and buy it here.

Happy Summer! And thanks, Mr. Brooks.

Got Kids? Get This!

16 hours of audio stories for girls, for boys, even for parents. Odds Bodkin, master storyteller and musician weaves voices and music to spellbind kids. Healthy stories. Hidden lessons. Acoustic music. Artistic beauty.

10 albums plus 3 epic tales as BONUS GIFTS!

Listen to samples and explore!

A Storyteller’s Terrible Mistake

Thirty-five years ago I was a young guy on a mission. I lived in Manhattan and worked with well-heeled independent schools like Spence and Ethical Culture, developing story-based programs for exploring nature in Central Park and beyond.

But I longed to just tell stories––to be a real storyteller. I knew very few tales then, maybe four or five, and my best, I thought, was Sedna the Ocean Mother. It’s a haunting Inuit creation myth about a marrying-age girl and her old father alone on their windy beach. The problem is, Sedna is very picky about a potential husband. One’s too fat. Another puts too few fish on the beach to ask for her. Others have rotten teeth.

Yes, it’s an Eskimo myth. Courtship was like this.

I once told Sedna at an environmental conference and that performance led to an offer from Antioch University New England to teach storytelling and imagination graduate courses, which I did for seven years.

In the story, Sedna’s fed-up father finally forces her to choose a stranger in a kayak who brags about how rich he is.  He won’t take off his snow goggles, however, so she can’t see his eyes, and he won’t stand up, so she can’t see how tall he is. Off she goes, huddled in the back of his kayak. But when they slide up onto his home beach and he steps out, he reveals bird legs and burning red eyes. He’s no man at all. He’s the spirit of the storm petrels, an arctic bird, a powerful supernatural being.

Spooky, right? It gets even worse, much worse. Terrifyingly worse. Treated badly by him, she starves and freezes. At the story’s end, Sedna’s father drowns her in a whirlpool created by the husband who’s found them trying to escape. Her severed fingers become the seals, whales and walruses and she becomes the ocean mother, the goddess who provides food to the Inuit. She’s now supernatural herself. A typical Eskimo origin myth. Scary and elemental.

So what was my terrible mistake so long ago?

I told Sedna to an audience of kids too young to hear it. They were Lower School students at the Fieldston Ethical Culture School. Little kids. As an artist, I thought everyone would be entertained by the music, the wind sounds and the characters. Especially the kids.

Instead, the next day, angry parents demanded to know who this stupid young man was who’d told their children this story. I’d terrified their kids so badly––tears in the car and nightmares in bed––that the parents were up in arms. I’d hurt their children. For weeks I felt awful. Still do, looking back on it.

So after I recovered emotionally, I swore to myself that I would never be at a loss for an age-appropriate story again. Instead, I’d learn to tell many more of them, gentle and beautiful ones, tales that even pre-kindergarteners would love and feel safe within.

And that’s what I did. You can find them here. All with age-recommendations.

Sedna is nowhere to be found.

THE MYTHIC CAR TRIP SALE: 50% OFF ODDS BODKIN’S EPIC ADVENTURES (TEN HOURS OF STORYTELLING)

Become lost in classic myths and legends told by Master Storyteller Odds Bodkin. Pre-teens to adults will enjoy The Odyssey, Beowulf (NEW), Hercules, Sir Percival, Viking Myths, The Iliad: Book I (video) and David and Goliath, all told with unforgettable characters and music. Find out more here!

Silent Violence in the Back Seat

It’s the daily drive. The kids are in the back. You’re hopeful that the video games they’re playing won’t stunt their intelligence or habituate them to adrenaline rushes as they destroy imaginary enemies. Maybe you’re worried that such casual violence will become normal to them. That as teens, they’ll end up depressed.

“We are a very plugged-in family and never far from electronics and screens. I credit our car rides filled with stories from you for a large reason why my kids never turned on their walkmans/ipods/laptops in the car.”

Plus, frustratingly, the kids are alone in their secret game worlds, and there’s no way to talk about it because you’re stuck in the driver’s seat.

“Unlike most music, the stories you tell invite conversation, discussion, and analysis so as we drove from school to sports to drama to dinner to dance and finally home, we listened and, more importantly, we talked.”

What do old folktales, fairy tales and myths have to do with modern kids’ lives?

“Given the wide range of stories you tell, we could always find connections between what was going on in our lives with some character or situation in one of your stories. Sometimes when a kid was wrestling with something, they’d pick a story they wanted to hear, stop the story somewhere, then talk about what was bothering them.”

Thanks to Valorie Gamer Osterman, a mom from Seattle, for her recent comments.

SHOP

THE ODYSSEY: AN EPIC TELLING 4-hr mp3 on sale/One day remaining

If you want to experience a fun, educational story that’s great for long car trips, today’s the last day to order Odds Bodkin’s The Odyssey for $24.95. That’s 50% off the 4-hour mp3 download. Sale ends tomorrow at Odds Bodkin’s download shop.

Odds Bodkin’s Odyssey epic $24.95 this week

Storyteller Odds Bodkin’s 4-hour epic telling of The Odyssey is on sale at 50% off this week through Sunday, June 25th. Visit Odds’ Shop.

iPhone Heat Alert from Odds Bodkin/For Folks Under the Heat Dome

Just outside in New Hampshire. In the 70’s. Left iPhone on the picnic table in the direct sun. Worked a while, picked up the phone and the screen read “Emergency” in red with a thermometer’s red line three quarters of the way up. Never saw this before. Took it inside and stuck in the fridge. It survived and is playing “On Point” on NPR at the moment. Host Tom Ashbrook is reporting on today’s heat dome in the Southwest and climate change in general.

Maybe everybody in the Southwest has learned this long ago, but if you haven’t, keep your iPhone in your pocket. Unless, of course, even your pocket gets too hot.

http://www.wbur.org/

 

LISTEN AND EXPLORE! 14 Odds Bodkin Story Collections and Epics for $99! SUMMER SALE!

DISNEY IS GREAT, BUT WHERE’S THE IMAGINATION? (EXCEPT, OF COURSE, AT DISNEY)

ODDS BODKIN STORIES WITH CHARACTERS, SOUNDS AND MUSIC INVITE FAMILIES TO IMAGINE TOGETHER.

Little Proto’s T-Rex Adventure Listening Sample:

 

 

GET ALL THE AWARD-WINNING AUDIOS BELOW FOR ONLY $99. 

SAVE $74! 

DOWNLOAD THEM ANY TIME…

 

ADVENTURES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

The Evergreens: Gentle Tales of Nature (3 & up)

The Teacup Fairy Collection (Very Old Tales for Very Young Children)

The Little Proto Trilogy (3 exciting dinosaur adventures with songs!)

Funny Folktales from Everywhere Collection

The Wise Girl Collection (stories for strong, smart girls)

Paul Bunyan Tall Tales Collection (hilarious American folklore)

The Winter Cherries Holiday Tales Collection (family Holidays favorites)

The Blossom Tree Collection: Tales from the Far East

 

AUDIO ADVENTURES FOR OLDER KIDS, TEENS AND ADULTS

David and Goliath: The Harper and the King (the great Bible story)

The Odyssey: An Epic Telling (4 hours!)

Giant’s Cauldron: Viking Myths of Adventure Collection

The Myth of Hercules (teens)

The Hidden Grail: Sir Percival and the Fisher King (a knights in armor adventure for teens)

Stories of Love Collection (teens and adults)

 

All Collections + Bundle

Teens and “The Cauldron of Stimulus”: A Storyteller’s View

From a recent Susanna Schrobsdorff Time article, Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright:

“If you wanted to create an environment to churn out really angsty people, we’ve done it,” says Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. Sure, parental micromanaging can be a factor, as can school stress, but Whitlock doesn’t think those things are the main drivers of this epidemic. “It’s that they’re in a cauldron of stimulus they can’t get away from, or don’t want to get away from, or don’t know how to get away from,” she says.

In my life I meet families all the time whose kids have grown up with my audio stories. At some point the parents found them in this wild, busy world and exposed their children to them during their formative years. For instance, I just met Stephanie from Pennsylvania, a great mom who invited me to perform there a couple of weeks ago. Afterwards she wrote me a kind letter, part of which said,

“I am proud that in our modern age, your stories played a large role in my children’s lives for several years. I can’t remember if I told you that for years we imitated the saluting bedbugs, or that we created an elaborate drip-sand castle and forest at the beach for the lovely Bargaglina after listening to The Little Shepherd on the way to Cape May Point. And of course you know about the Odyssey on the way to the Bay of Fundy. Your stories were such a gift to my kids’ development!”

So maybe part of the cure for kids going off the rails is mythic storytelling. Old tales, filled with the struggles of men and women who are long gone but whose stories tell us that yes, life is rugged and has its dark times, but heroes are people who overcome those obstacles because they never give up. People who are driven by love or honor or just the deep motivation to survive.

And that’s just the story part. The other healthful factor is imagination itself, the natural sort our minds are capable of. When we imagine, endorphins are released into the bloodstream, much like a runner’s high. The cerebral cortex lights up like a fire, drawing on memories and feelings from deep inside, rather than stimulus from that social media cauldron beyond ourselves. It’s a creative act, and quite refreshing. Imagination in childhood becomes creativity in adulthood, and we live in times when creativity and adaptability are premium skills. If there’s one thing young people can count on in their futures these days, it’s rapid change. Unpredictable change.

For younger kids, fairytales operate in the same beneficial way. The Little Shepherd is one I just performed for three hundred K-2 public school kids last week. For twenty-five minutes they sat, still and quiet, for this longest story in the show, all of them lost in fantasy. What’s the value of that? Well, as Bruno Bettelheim wrote in The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairytales, “While the fantasy is unreal, the good feelings it gives us about ourselves and our future are real, and these good feelings are what we need to sustain us.”

ODDS BODKIN SUMMER SALE #1: The Odyssey: An Epic Telling/50% Off

Hi. I’m Odds Bodkin, author, musician and professional storyteller. Along with performing at thousands of schools and universities, for over three decades I’ve also recorded classic tales with music and characters to inspire listeners of all ages. From heroic myths to nature folktales drawn from many lands, all include original music I play live on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and other instruments. It’s storytelling with heart, a kind of art you’ll never forget. This summer, I invite you to discover it.

This week’s summer sale at my online download shop is The Odyssey: An Epic Telling. It’s 4 hours of Greek mythology and vivid adventure. Regular price: $49.95. This week only it’s on sale for $24.95 here, from June 18 to June 25. Check out the audio sample and see if you’re not fascinated. Families love listening to it on road trips. Get yours today and enjoy! Share the sale with friends, too!

 

The Helpless Sky

In the last line of a story I’ll be telling at the Climate Symposium in Boulder next fall, Gaia, the original Earth Mother, reflects on how uncomfortable anger makes her feel. Bad things happen when she senses injustice and she’s been implacably rough on her husband Ouranos and grandson Zeus during the story. What, she asks herself after she goes into hiding now that the Titans have fallen, could ever make her that angry again?

 
I guess the time has come. Our atmosphere is definitely angry nowadays. Basically, it’s drier dries, wetter wets, windier winds and hotter hots. Fire seasons continue to lengthen. Whether rain or snow, precipitation is heavier, hence floods in new places. When they do begin to spin, hurricanes and tornadoes are more destructive than before. Insurers are desperate for forecasts. For thousands of years, farmers and herders in Africa, South America and the Middle East counted on rainy seasons to avoid famines. Slowly drying out now, those lands are forcing migrants to flee what are essentially climate wars. We haven’t even mentioned our own great population centers, built at the sea’s edge.

 
Ever cooked spaghetti in a pot? You turn on the heat and wait for the boil. Long ago I learned that if I cover it with a lid, it boils twice as fast. Instead of letting heat escape out the top, I trap it in a closed system. Smart, right? It might be hard to imagine, but Earth’s atmospheric pot had no lid prior to the Industrial Revolution. Over the last 150 years, though, we’ve installed an invisible one made of greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels. It’s not anyone’s voluntary doing. We only figured this out a few decades ago. Up until then, all that exhaust was progress. As vast as it is, we’re slowly closing off Earth’s heat release system, high above our heads. Not completely yet, but we’re getting there, busily tossing tiny carbon footprints by the billions up into a helpless sky.

 
There has to be a way to figure this out before the thing boils, with us in it.

 
I’ll also be conducting a workshop designed to turn climate-aware people, including scientists, into The Cadre of Science Storytellers.