“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!

THANATOS ON THE WEB, JUST FOR TEENS

Thanatos was the ancient Greek god of death. He seldom made an appearance in person. If you think about it, that makes sense. He only shows up when there’s no time left to tell a story about him.

As the son of Night and Darkness, his siblings were Old Age, Deception, Blame, Suffering, Doom, Strife, Retribution and Atropos, a goddess of death herself. She’s the root of our modern word “atrophy.”

As you can sense by his mythical brothers and sisters (the Greek gods were personifications of various human conditions) Thanatos normally has to do with death in old age. Old people die when their times come. That’s the way of nature.

But a new Digital Thanatos Ethic has appeared among teens. Witness the young Massachusetts girl who was just convicted of urging her depressed boyfriend to kill himself in his monoxide-filled truck. Witness the tens of thousands of other young girls who are cutting themselves, along with the millions of boys who worship all-powerful killer monsters they inhabit inside avatars, living a false heroism that has nothing to do with the real world around them.

“The other day I put up a self-harm picture,” she says. “I was alone and in a dark place. […] Of course, nobody would help, but posting it boosted my confidence a little; finding it buried in amongst all the other self-harm posts reminded me I’m not alone.” Full article in The Guardian.

Sites like these where depressed teens commiserate and urge each other to suicide and self-harm are appearing on the web like poisonous mushrooms. Depression blogs. Teen suicides on Facebook Live. Anorexia-promotion sites. This is a new species of digital connection so unnatural, so profoundly unhealthy, that parents and policymakers should take notice and shut these sites down, or at least get their kids away from them. And from cynical, exploitative TV shows that explore and justify them.

As for First Amendment considerations, media like this is the slow-moving equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Loneliness is one thing. But lonely kids who never meet each other in person gathering together online to compare ways to hurt themselves?

Even in an utterly secular world, that’s just not right. It’s a digital disease.

 

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

Odds Bodkin Summer Sale #2/The Little Proto Trilogy @ 50% Off

The Little Proto Trilogy is 3 hours and 20 minutes of dinosaur adventures with Little Proto, a character young kids love to imagine. Along with a wise old Triceratops, a retired but still bombastic T-Rex and other dino friends, Proto goes on wild, yet child-safe adventures. Good for ages four and up, these stories talk about friendship and family. Each features songs, too, a full score on 12-string guitar and amazing dino sounds, all created live in the studio by Odds Bodkin. Great for car trips.

 

The Adventures of Little Proto, Little Proto’s T-Rex Adventure and Little Proto and the Volcano’s Fire­­––regular download price $24.95. On sale this week for $12.95.

Not available as CDs.

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.

It’s No Fun To Wake Up in the Underworld

Hercules is not pleased. He’s just been burned alive on a funeral pyre he himself ordered. Expecting to wake up on Mt. Olympus, instead he’s standing before Hades and Persephone, King and Queen of the Dead. He’s been diverted to the Underworld. Why? Because Persephone craves news of the living and won’t let Hercules go until he tells his life story. Furious at this trick, Hercules makes empty threats until he reluctantly agrees, and so begins his epic, tragic tale.

 

This is Odds Bodkin’s approach to the Greek myth of Hercules. With a surging score on 12-string guitar and voices for Hercules, Hades, Persephone and other characters, Bodkin offers this evening’s entertainment this coming Sunday, June 25th in an intimate setting at the Riverwalk Café and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Bring a friend and get ready for some adult imagination.

 

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Great food and cocktails, too.

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/