ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS Odds Bodkin show in Cambridge MA Performance

Nowadays, personal storytelling is all the rage. The Moth, NPR’s show where people have a few minutes to recount real events in their lives is one of the healthiest species I’ve seen evolve in the media jungle in a long time. It’s almost always moving and refreshing, like a bird of paradise. It’s totally genuine.

I’m not. At least not in that way. The ancient tales I tell are genuine, of course. And the music’s performed live, on whatever instruments, so it’s genuine, too, I like to think. The character voices are created live and I’m never sure what they’re going to say, so they’re muse-genuine, even if they are dramatic illusions and nothing more. Happy to admit that. Am I genuine? Sure. It’s just that these stories aren’t about me.

Take, for instance, Loki, who I’ll be enacting along with a befuddled Thor, a wicked-crafty Odin Continue reading “ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS Odds Bodkin show in Cambridge MA Performance”

Odds Bodkin Stories Worldwide

Two recent download purchases at my digital store have come from Krackow, Poland and Beijing, China. That’s very interesting to me. Even in these far flung (at least from America) locations, people out there know the value of intelligent listening for their children. And themselves.

They know, as a mom who wrote me recently stated, “Thank you for writing about tough topics but remembering that humor is important, too. Thank you for being someone my kids could use to help explain the world but never told them what to think. Thank you for talking about doing the right thing, even if it is hard, but never beating anyone over the head with the morality.”

In all the lines in her lengthy letter here, those three sentences meant the most to me.

Visit the shop and buy some MAGIC COINS as a gift for kids or adults. Recipients can visit and choose which titles they like at their convenience. Latest new releases include Strings in the Clouds, a calming 6-minute composition on Celtic harp and strings. Good music to listen to while working on complicated things.

Thanks for listening!

Odds Bodkin

Beowulf: The Only One is coming out on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24th, 2016, American time zone. I have no idea what time that is in Beijing or Krakow, but I hope those customers enjoy it, too!

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Audio Thanksgiving Day Release

Beowulf: The Only One
A New Bardic Telling with 12-String Guitar

Odds Bodkin’s new 65-minute bardic telling of the oldest story in the English language will be available at http://www.oddsbodkin.net/shop/ on Thanksgiving Day. Employing a cinema-like score on 12-string guitar, human characters and monstrous voices, the audio tells a tale of gratitude and simple courage in the face of ancient evils.

Beowulf: The Only One is gruesome in places and filled with vivid details of old Viking life. Unlike recent Hollywood versions of the tale, the audio closely follows the original poem’s story, from the monster Grendel’s first attacks on Hrothgar’s mead hall to Beowulf’s battle with the Fire Dragon fifty years later.

The story includes frank violence. Not recommended for listeners under 12.

This recording joins Bodkin’s collection of epic tales for older children, teens and adults that includes The Odyssey, David and Goliath, The Hidden Grail and The Myth of Hercules, all available as mp3 audios at www.oddsbodkin.net.

The download will be available for $14.95 using PayPal.

The Love Gift of Stories

Is your child or grandchild a good imaginer?

Build your child’s imagination away from the screen now. Save $74 on Odds Bodkin’s amazing audio stories with music from world cultures. 10 classic story collections plus epics––The Myth of Hercules, The Hidden Grail, David and Goliath and the 4-hour Odyssey! All for $99.

Coming soon! BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE. A heroic tale brought to life in spoken word and music.

If you know Odds Bodkin’s works, share with a friend! Buy now and download any time. All titles available individually as well.

All Collections + Bundle

 

 

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!

 

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

Storytelling Meets Science: StoryEarth with Martin Ogle

“Do you wish to be King of the Cosmos, my son?” she asks, angry at her husband. “Oh, mother, you know I do,” answers Cronus. “Then take this sickle,” Gaia replies, handing it over, “and wound your father so he can no longer be king.”

 
These two are Titans, the early half-giant, half-elemental builders of the world, at least according the Greek poet Hesiod, who set down his beliefs circa 700 B.C. In the Theogony’s fantastical world, Gaia is the original Creatrix, the Earth itself, who in her underground womb of Tartarus gestates the mountains, sea and sky. It’s the sky she marries, birthing 12 perfect Titans with her husband Ouranus. But when she starts giving birth to monsters, he grows fearful and locks them away. While her Titan children bring day and night, rivers and streams, even prophecy into the world, Gaia grows furious with her husband for demanding only perfect offspring. The Golden Age soon ends as betrayals haunt this first of first families and a baby named Zeus is hidden away, like Moses in the reeds.

 
Theogony means “birth of the gods” and it’s the Greek gods of Mt. Olympus we’re talking about. Those perennial favorites at the movies. Hera. Poseidon. Hades. Demeter. And not least of all, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, who turns out to be the eldest of them all, born in a horrifying way. They’re all pre-scientific human projections, of course, who existed in the Greco-Roman imagination for a thousand years or so, but their thoughts and actions are entertaining nonetheless. We still fancy their mythic escapades to this day. For gods who are supposed to be immortals, they’re as human and fallible as the people who dreamt them up.

 
Jealousy. Ambition. Love. Betrayal. Imprisonment. Sleep potions. Monsters. Creation. Castration. Swallowed children. Rebellion. Just of few of the themes in this epic story I’ll be offering as part of StoryEarth with Naturalist Martin Ogle (pictured) on November 9th, 2016 at 7:00 pm at the University of Colorado’s Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex in Boulder, Colorado.

 
Come listen to this first Game of Thrones-style story. It’s adult and very fun, told with character voices and an original score on 12-string guitar. Then Martin will contrast the myth with modern-day science’s discoveries of how Earth came to be, a little more accurately, as far as we know at the moment. Serious attention will be paid to climate change and whether our stories about the Earth need a science update.

 
The show is called StoryEarth and is sponsored by the Parent Engagement Network and Entrepreneurial Earth. Tickets are available at: http://www.parentengagementnetwork.org/odds-bodkin

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE/A Storyteller’s Creation Notes

When I heard the late Seamus Heaney’s reading of his 2000 translation of Beowulf on CDs, I was so struck by the golden language and Heaney’s glorious lilt I’ve recommended it to folks ever since. If you’ve never heard it, don’t miss it. Appreciative as I was of the original Beowulf’s heraldic detail (many sub-stories of kings and feuds, which go on and on like begats in the Bible), I wondered whether I might be able to create a bardic version of it, as I’ve done with other epics, that simplified the language and content enough to make the old story itself more accessible, while cleaving faithfully to its soul.

 

 
So a few years ago I set about to create characters and music for it, performed it at the University of New Hampshire once, and a couple of other times since, watching it and its musical score grow in my imagination. I purposefully left out the long-winded heraldic speeches, since unless you’re a medieval scholar they won’t mean much, and instead focused on a few characters. Hrothgar, the old king of the Danes. Grendel, the beast that haunts his mead hall for 12 years, killing men every night. Beowulf himself, of course, honor-bound, preternaturally calm and good-natured in my version, who’s not much of a trickster. Grendel’s Mother, a terrifying demon. Unferth, the drunk who insults Beowulf but ends up lending him his sword. Wyglaf, Beowulf’s faithful cousin, and a few other voices for thanes and thieves. Enough of them, I think, along with the narration and the music, to tell the tale I want to tell, because from my familiarity with various versions, there lies a literary theme in Beowulf that has yet to be explored.

 

 
The theme is this: how, at the end of his life, does a man like Beowulf feel about being “the only one?” He’s the only one brave and grateful enough to journey to Denmark and offer to free Hrothgar of his curse, but also the only one responsible for keeping the peace for fifty years afterwards back home among warring Franks, Friesians and Wylfings. And most heartbreakingly, the only one brave enough to face a fire-dragon that’s awakened, even though Beowulf knows he’s going to die for doing it?

 

 
Mulling this over, and reflecting on Beowulf’s stunning statement (in the original), “Fate often saves an undoomed man if his courage holds,”–my favorite line in the story, which I feature three times in my version in Beowulf’s deep voice–I placed him on the battlements with Wyglaf, wondering aloud whether if something terrible happened now that he’s old himself, if some young man would come to rescue him? Beowulf is not who he was. Still big, but white-bearded and tired of strife.

 

 
Wyglaf says no, and then the dragon appears.

 

 
Beowulf: The Only One will be coming out this fall as a download from my shop at www.oddsbodkin.net. To explore other epics, feel free to visit.