What is Gaia Theory? What Does It Have To Do With FALL OF THE TITANS in Cambridge?

This coming Sunday January 22nd at 5:30 pm I’ll return to Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA to tell Fall of the Titans: The Original Game of Thrones, an ancient Greek myth. The 90-minute show, told with narration, character voices and a score on 12-string guitar, is prefaced, believe it or not, with modern science, Gaia Theory in particular. Gaia Theory isn’t a belief, it’s a bundle of sciences. Biology. Chemistry. Physics. Ecology. Plate tectonics. Climatology. Paleo-geology. Vulcanology. Glaciology. On and on. It combines these and other disciplines into the grand notion that Earth is a giant, self-regulating organism, creating and sloughing off complex life forms for many hundreds of millions of years.

Pangea (“all-Earth”) is the name scientists have given the ancient super-landmass that fused the continents 300 million years ago but which drifted apart into what we’ve got today. In certain places, rock layers along the west coast of Africa are identical to rock layers along the east coast of South America, after all. Now the Atlantic Ocean separates them, but at one point they were in the same spot on Pangea. Continents drift about an inch a year.

So what’s the link to my storyteller’s version of Hesiod’s Theogony, a poem from 700 B.C. about the ancient Greek gods we see in the movies all the time? The link is paleo-seas, the waters that surrounded Pangea’s break-up. Scientists have given them names. The Tethys Sea. The Iapetus Ocean. The Pontus Ocean. The Rheic Ocean. Where did these strange names come from?

Well, the scientists who named them were obviously familiar with Hesiod’s creation myth, because Tethys, Iapetus, Pontus and Rhea were Titans, children of Gaia, the Earth itself, all of whom are characters in the Theogony (“birth of the gods”). Think of them as the Earth-Makers. The Bronze Age Greeks looked around and saw mountains, sky and seas and had no idea where they’d come from, so they dreamt up a Titan who created each one of them. Tethys, a Titaness, created the streams and rivers. Pontus created the sea. Iapetus created death to make room for new life. Rhea was the mother of the Olympian gods––Zeus, Hera, Hades, Demeter and so on. They were all part of a family that tore itself apart because of imperfection.

At least that’s the story.

So learning about ancient seas made me curious about the names, the names led me to the story, and now Fall of the Titans is a full-blown performance piece. It’s lots of fun with some pretty cosmic music on 12-string guitar and voices for Gaia, Ouranus, Cronus, Rhea, baby cyclopses, Zeus and others. It is an adult story and is definitely not recommended for children.

I’ll have my Celtic harp to help introduce the science part.

Tickets are $15 for tables and $10 bar seating. I hope to see you there!

Truth or Dare: What Details Should I Include? It’s An Adult Audience, After All.

My text of Hesiod’s Theogony reads like this:

Great Ouranos came, bringing the night,
and spread out around Gaia, desiring philotês,
and was extended. His son reached out from ambush
with his left hand, and in his right he held the sickle,
long and serrated and the genitals of his father
he quickly reaped and threw them behind his back
to be carried away.

“Philotês” means a few things in ancient Greek––friendship, love and sexual intercourse. In this case, it’s definitely intercourse and I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. In this scene, Cronus, the last-born of Gaia’s Titan children, un-kings his father Ouranos to become king himself. Gaia, who’s at the center of my Fall of the Titans tale, is furious with Ouranos for having imprisoned her six latest babies. Ouranos is the Sky (Mother Earth/Father Sky) and has been her husband for eons. Gaia is the Earth. All along he’s been a proud father, having watched Gaia produce 12 perfect Titan children after having philotês with her.

But now that she’s given birth to three Cyclopses and three Hecatonchires (scary beasts with fifty heads) and Ouranos fears what they will become when they grow up, he’s made her angry for the first time. He’s dragged the baby monsters in chains down into Tartarus and locked them in giant prison cells. After this, Gaia decides she is done with Ouranos and wants him de-throned. Since kingliness and fertility were one and the same in the Bronze Age when this tale was set down, castration is the solution. Her ambitious son Cronus agrees to do it. Soon he becomes a paranoid king and since Phoebe, one of his older sisters and a prophetess, foresees that one of Cronus’ children will overthrow him, he eats them one by one as they’re born. Baby Hera, baby Poseidon, baby Demeter, baby Hades and others.

I have two Fall of the Titans shows coming up. I’ve told this story to young audiences in a sanitized, PG version (“Wound your father, so that he may no longer be king” is how I phrase it) but these two shows are for adults, one in Nashua, NH and the other in Cambridge, MA (see below for details). Of course, this is just one small moment in the epic tale itself, but a crucial one. It sets up all kinds of wild events, including the appearance of the Goddess of Love Aphrodite––the first of the Olympians––and a poignant moment later in the tale when Gaia is forced to visit her emasculated ex-husband and beg for his help.

So I’m still wrestling with this Lorena Bobbitt moment. Still not sure what I’ll do.

This coming Sunday night (Jan. 15) at 7:00 p.m. at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire I’ll be telling this tale (tickets here) and once again at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA at 5:30 p.m. on January 22nd. Tickets here.

Wish me luck in telling FALL OF THE TITANS: THE ORIGINAL GAME OF THRONES.

FALL OF THE TITANS: THE ORIGINAL GAME OF THRONES/upcoming show in Nashua, NH

Along with Homer, the ancient Greek poet Hesiod essentially codified old spoken tales of the Olympian gods into the wondrously complex mythology we know today as the Greek myths. It’s good to bear in mind that in their day, these were deeply religious stories and the Greeks believed them as fact. Where had the Earth come from? What caused day and night? Who created the stars? How did the sea become salty? How did memory and prophecy enter the world? Why did weather change? What caused volcanoes to erupt?

Religions do this, each in their own way, even fossil religions like Greek pantheism, and so all these questions Hesiod tried to answer in his poem, The Theogony. “Theo” means deity and “gony” means “the birth of,” and so Hesiod’s “Birth of the Gods” covers all these topics and many more, all filtered, of course, through the mind of a brilliant man who lived circa 700 B.C.

Most folks know about the antics of Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo and the other gods as grownups, but far fewer know the tale of how they were born into a Game of Thrones-style family feud among their parents and grandparents–the Titans.

This coming Sunday, January 15th at 7:00 pm at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH, I’ll be telling my storyteller’s version of this wild old yarn. I call it FALL OF THE TITANS because after they created the Earth, the Titans did indeed fall. It has echoes of Moses in the reeds (Zeus is the hidden baby) and features gorgeous scenes of creation as well as sordid adult moments. If you don’t know this story, you’ll learn how the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was born. Be warned: it’s fairly chilling for most guys. Ambition, lust for power and child-devouring also play significant parts in this Bronze Age narrative.

This is an adult performance and not recommended for children under 13.

As usual, I’ll have my Celtic harp for background lore and my 12-string guitar for scoring the tale itself. I last told this tale in Boulder, CO to an adult audience and they had a great time, so I hope you’ll consider coming to the show. Tickets are $10 here.

Rapunzel’s Window: Anti-Pop Music

Rapunzel’s Window is the title of a haunting new composition of mine that features air flute and strings. If you know a teenage girl who’s feeling overwhelmed, buy her this 3:09 piece of music to listen to. It’s a whopping $.99 at my online store and is guaranteed to let her know she’s not the only one who’s ever felt that way.

It’s subtitled “Lonely Music for Air Flute and Strings” and so isn’t supposed to make anybody happy. Just reflective.

In preparing to publish this and a few other instrumental pieces, I sent Rapunzel’s Window to a dynamic young woman mover-and-shaker here in the town where I live. I don’t know her very well but together with her husband and others she was part of funding a project here at my home this past fall, so the symphonic songs were a thank you.

About a month later I got a card back, having wondered for a while if she’d ever downloaded them from Dropbox. Turns out she had, and that of all of them, Rapunzel’s Window moved her the most. That was nice to hear. I think of this tune and the others I’ve composed as “anti-pop” or something like that. No thudding rhythms. No sampling of other people’s loops. No obscenities that cheapen love. Just music made by hand on a synth keyboard or with real instruments, or both.

The full tune is available here.

New Slow Bluegrass Tune by Odds Bodkin now at Odds’ Shop

I just put up a new tune, SOFT-HEARTED MEN IN THE GOOD OLD USA, at my online shop. It’s a sweet, relaxing piece of music featuring 12-string guitar, duo mandolins, bass and drums. Makes me think of the heartland when I listen to it. Here’s a sample:

 

$.99.  While you’re at my shop, check out the other instrumental pieces and, of course, the stories. For adults, my latest is BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, a 65-minute tale.

Happy Holidays!

Odds Bodkin

Beowulf: The Only One/Listening Sample

Beowulf: The Only One, an Odds Bodkin epic storytelling audio with music, will be published at http://www.oddsbodkin.net/shop/ Thanksgiving Day 2016. The 65-minute audio is a new bardic telling of the ancient Viking tale, the oldest known piece of literature in English.

With character voices for Beowulf, King Hrothgar of the Danes, Unferth, Wyglaf and Grendel the monster and his mother, the tale is scored throughout with original music on 12-string guitar.

The download is priced at $14.95.

Enjoy this audio sample! 3:25 minutes.

TALES OF THE MOON at the Peabody Essex Museum on 10/15

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, known as the PEM, is one of the finest mid-sized museums in the world, and this October 15th, for their Lunar Imaginings Opening Day Festival, I’ll be in Morse Auditorium at 11:00 a.m. with a very special show, Tales of the Moon.

The Twenty-Seven Wives of the Moon is a Hindu tale of how Soma, the Moon, asks Daksha, a powerful god and sage, to marry twenty-seven of his beloved daughters. “Twenty-seven wives?” Daksha responds, dubious Soma can treat each one equally. Soma insists he can do it, and what follows involves Ganesha, the Elephant-Headed God, Shiva the Destroyer and his wife, Parvati, and a host of other gods. Not to mention twenty-six angry wives. How it all works out, and how Soma survives to ride his chariot past the twenty-seven mansions of the stars is the tale itself, and in places is hilarious. I perform it with a sitar-tuned 12-string guitar and voices.

Spinners of the Moon is from Germany and is even funnier. It’s a Grimm’s fairy tale told with Celtic harp about Kelsa, who hates to spin. In fact, she hates everything about flax and the linen that comes from it, in a very smelly process. Never having learned, she’s grabbed by the Queen with the promise that if she can spin a dungeon of raw flax into linen thread in three days, she’ll marry the prince, but if she fails, she’ll lose her head. Kelsa despairs until three of the strangest looking beings–a young woman, a mother, and a crone–appear in the full moon’s light and offer to spin it all if she makes them a promise. Each has an outsized bodily feature connected to spinning. The outcome is very funny, especially when the prince meets them.

The last tale, told with alto recorder, is The Monkeys and the Moon from Tibet. It’s a parable about what happens when we follow a bad leader. Considering the election, it will hit home. In a non-partisan way, of course.

Plus I’ll add all manner of lunar lore to fill things out.

Come enjoy the show!

 

 

 

Odds Bodkin’s THE ILIAD:BOOK I Live Performance Video

Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts is a fine private high school on a hill, and I was privileged to appear there recently before the entire student body one morning. Invited to perform one of my favorite pieces for high school and university audiences, The Iliad: Book I, I had a great time. Along with my long-form telling of The Odyssey (available at my download shop), it’s my homage to Homer. Loving his epics as I do, and wishing that many more young people read them for their timeless messages, I modernize these ancient tales as audios with character voices, music and accessible English.

Only this time, the show was captured on video. Jay Sharron, Cushing’s Media Production Coordinator, shot the performance before a live audience.

It’s now available in four parts as a 322 mb download, mobile quality video.

Find it here!

 

THE MONSTER’S VOICE/Beowulf:The Only One

Beowulf, the oldest known work of English literature, is about a man fighting monsters. Beowulf fights three of them over the course of the story. The first is Grendel, an ancient demon who is terrorizing the Viking Danes. Since he has no powers of speech, to create a character voice for Grendel took some experimenting, but in this prototype recording of Beowulf: The Only One, my hour-long audio story coming out later this fall, you can hear Grendel growl a few times and catch a whiff of his theme music. He’s a beast.
Enjoy.

 

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE/12-string guitar music

For Beowulf: The Only One, I play a 12-string guitar with a pick in a modified open E flat tuning. I’ve been devising music in this rare tuning for years now, and if you play the guitar, six or twelve, you’ll find that if you play a C chord in concert tuning (regular tuning) on my guitar, you’ll get a horrible sound. Same thing with every other regular chord. That’s because the fingerings in this tuning are unique to it, and the only way to find them is through exploration.

 
I’ve always thought of 12-string guitars as starships. For storytelling at least, they’re like a vehicle you can get in and take off with, traveling through interstellar clouds of moods. For Beowulf: The Only One, I’ve developed themes that I hope convey the scary beauty of this story. The Beowulf Theme, for instance, embodies the pathos of both the hero and his war-ravaged world. But it also contains hope, at least in Beowulf’s presence, otherwise the story is a pretty dark vision. Hope springs eternal. Still, nothing in human affairs has changed much since the times of Beowulf, other than technology, at least in this storyteller’s opinion.

 
Here’s rough-cut of Beowulf’s Theme:

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy it.

 

To find out about all my storytelling recordings with music, visit www.oddsbodkin.net.

Odds Bodkin