ADULT HORROR STORIES RECORDING EVENT at GRENDEL’S DEN

Years ago I made a recording called Dark Tales of the Supernatural and sold it on cassette. When I switched over to CDs and then to digital recordings (www.oddsbodkin.net/shop) I left it out. Mostly due to production values.

Over the years I’ve received numerous requests for it, and so this October 29th at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA, I’ll be recording a new version live.

Lycanthropes and wraiths, not to mention the Devil––both imitated by a fool and as a very real presence on the dance floor––comprise the four horror stories in this show. Plus the origins of Halloween, going all the way back to the Druids of ancient England and Julius Caesar’s comments about them in 55 B.C.

First, Rose Latulippe and the Devil, a French Canadian story deceptively scored with lovely Celtic harp music, even as Rose dances closer and closer to the elegant man with claws in his gloves. Unaware that her body parts are falling away, she just keeps dancing.

Next, The Storm Breeder, a classic New England ghost legend about how Jonathan Dunwell of New York received the hideous burn scar across his neck in the shape of a gripping hand. Wind, whiplashes, horse gallops and driving 12-string effects weave in and out of vivid characters in this tale.

In Eastern Europe they’re werewolves, in Russia, werebears, but in China, they’re werepanthers. In The Panther Boys, two fine young sons are cursed to take the skins of seven men of their village by turning to supernatural night cats. Kill they do, but the tale turns terrifying when their father realizes they must come for him next. This tale is told with creepy, wind-blown alto recorder and panther screams.

Last comes Treasure Trove, a tale from Russia’s serfs. It’s too dark and brooding even to begin to describe, other than there’s vodka, a funeral and hoof-prints of the Cossacks. That and it features a human devil.

HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror begins at 5 pm Sunday October 29th at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square. Spooky specialty foods and drinks will make it even more fun for these adult storytellings, all scored throughout with original music.

Come be part of a live recording event and enjoy some imagination entertainment for Halloween!

Tickets are $15 table seating and $10 at the bar.

HOWL LIKE A BANSHEE, WHISTLE LIKE A TRAIN this Saturday in MA!

Mercer is the engineer. O’Reilly is the fireman who shovels coal next to him in the engine’s cab. Only these two men behold the banshee, the fairy woman who warns of death, wailing in the air above Irish homes.

Only this isn’t old Ireland, this is Colorado, and a phantom steam train is chasing them through the high Rockies. The banshee is there, however, only this time she’s in the black plume of smoke above their pursuer. Between her behind him and a washed out bridge up ahead, Mercer must make a decision. What does he do? Come hear The Banshee Train, based on my children’s book, accompanied by fine flat-picked bluegrass guitar, and find out.

Not only that, we’ll learn to whistle like a train and howl like a banshee as part of this music-filled story. Kid tested. Lots of fun.

Two more fun, spooky tales with happy endings fill out my upcoming show at The Burren in Somerville MA this coming Saturday, October 21st at 4 p.m.

Other music on Celtic harp and 12-string guitar.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door.

Odds Bodkin presents FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES in Sanbornton and Hopkinton NH this Weekend!

Gafney Public Library will host FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES Saturday morning, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Wakefield Opera House in Sanbornton, NH.

Hopkinton Public Library will host FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES on Sunday, October 15th at 4 p.m. in Contoocook, NH.

Both hour-long shows are free to the public and filled with child-safe Halloween stories. Bring the kids, even the little ones! Music on 6-six guitar, 12-string guitar and Celtic harp. Children are invited to make sounds and rhythms during two of the tales.

Lots of fun!

THE BENEFIT OF HORROR

Yes, it’s a benefit show for an up and coming business in my town, but it’s also a delightfully horrible evening. ‘Tis the season, after all, for lycanthropes and wraiths, not to mention the Devil––both imitated by a fool and as a very real presence on the dance floor.

I’ll be performing four tales tomorrow night at 8 pm on the lawn at the Sweet Beet Market in Bradford, NH, each story more unsettling than the last. Plus the origins of Halloween, going all the way back to the Druids of ancient England and Julius Caesar.

First, Rose Latulippe and the Devil, a French Canadian story deceptively scored with lovely Celtic harp music, even as Rose dances closer and closer to the elegant man with claws in his gloves. Unaware that her body parts are falling away, she just keeps dancing.

Next, The Storm Breeder, a classic New England ghost legend about how Jonathan Dunwell of New York received the hideous burn scar across his neck in the shape of a gripping hand. Wind, whiplashes, horse gallops and driving 12-string effects weave in and out of vivid characters in this tale.

In Eastern Europe they’re werewolves, in Russia, werebears, but in China, they’re werepanthers. In The Panther Boys, two fine young sons are cursed to take the skins of seven men of their village by turning to supernatural night cats. Kill they do, but the tale turns terrifying when their father realizes they must come for him next. This tale is told with creepy, wind-blown alto recorder and panther screams.

Last comes Treasure Trove, a tale from Russia’s serfs. It’s too dark and brooding even to begin to describe, other than there’s vodka, a funeral and hoof-prints of the Cossacks. That and it features a human devil.

HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror begins at 8 pm tomorrow night, Friday the 13th, at the Sweet Beet Market on Main Street in Bradford, NH. Food and hot drinks will be available. It’s an outdoor show under the stars, so bring a blanket, have dinner, find a good seat. No kids, please. These stories aren’t for them.

All ticket sales go to benefit the Kearsarge Food Hub. $10 in advance, $12 at the gate. Come support this young business and enjoy being horrified!

FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES at The Burren in Somerville, MA

The Burren is a fine music venue, and since Tom Bianchi’s kids grew up listening to my stories (he books shows there), he’s invited me to perform this October 21st, Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Having worked with kid audiences for decades, I know they’re sensitive to good and bad, even good and evil, but are much too sensitive for truly frightening stories. Like the rest of us, they love to be just a little scared, but not so much that they have bad dreams afterwards. And so for this Halloween season, I’ve created a new storytelling show just for them and their parents.

FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES features three tales, one based on The Banshee Train, a children’s book I wrote, one from Danny Kaye’s Around the World Storybook, and the last a galloping Italian fairytale with a witch who is roundly defeated by magical helpers who aid a little boy on a quest.

The Banshee Train, with a flat-picked country score on guitar, tells of a trainload of people saved by a banshee in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Kids learn all about steam trains in the process. The guitar playing is worth the price of admission, I’ll bet.

The Stranger at the Dance is a French Canadian story about a girl who almost disappears when Old Scratch, the devil, shows up at a barn dance. Because he’s well-dressed and handsome and she doesn’t know who he is, she dances with him. Luckily she’s saved by her fiancée and the village priest, and the devil is thrown out. It’s performed with a beautiful score on Celtic harp.

The Little Shepherd is a rollicking participatory adventure about a boy cursed by a witch never to grow an inch until he finds a mysterious fairy inside a singing apple. Wild vocal effects, hilarious character voices including tiny fairies and a fun participatory score on 12-string guitar makes this a slightly spooky, but mostly delightful tale, a great way to end this show of child-safe Halloween stories.

Hope to see you there. Please let friends with young kids know about this unique performance!

Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door available here.

 

 

 

BACK TO THE CEMETERY: Heartpounders Horror Tales on Friday the 13th

Is it an old haunted inn? It looks that way. Abandoned for years, it sat overgrown and neglected, a hulking eyesore on Main Street in Bradford, New Hampshire, my town. Weeds grew. The old sign faded. I drove by it every day.

But then a group of young people in town had a dream. Now its ground floor is a thriving locavore food heaven, filled with organic produce and meats, ice creams and locally-made specialty items.

Today when I drive by it’s the Sweet Beet Market, and even bigger dreams surround it. A bakery. A new arts venue. A commercial kitchen for food artisans. On weekends, the parking lot is filled with cars. Folks eat freshly made breakfasts, cooked up on the wraparound veranda as families sit at picnic tables. At this time of year, artfully piled pumpkins have turned the place orange. The old inn has come alive.

To help with this Kearsarge Food Hub project, I’m donating the scariest show in my repertory this coming Friday the 13th at 8 pm, an outdoor event with jack-o-lanterns glowing, under the big tent. HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror is an adult evening of stories. No kids, please. Mini-horror movies for the mind’s eye, these tales have entertained audiences from Lincoln Center in New York to the National Storytelling Festival. Each with driving music on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp, and other instruments, plus lots of creepy character voices and sounds, they’re unnerving and fun. The show is two hours.

Hot cider. Good hot food. On a cool October evening beneath the waning moon, these stories will come to life, or horrible death (agh!!!) depending on how you like it.

If you know folks in New Hampshire, please let them know. Nothing like this anywhere else in the Granite State.

Tickets are $10, $12 at the door.

Check it out on Facebook.

16 TITANS: Reflections on Presenting at the Boulder Climate Symposium

A Fusion of Climate Science and Storytelling

 

Although I’m an artist, I’ve been an amateur student of environmental disruption since 1985.

Witness the two Virginia tulip poplars thriving in my New Hampshire back yard for a decade now, where I planted them as tiny saplings in hopes they’d survive our harsh winters. They’re now eight feet tall, growing in a place they shouldn’t be. When they mature, long after I’m gone, they’ll be seventy feet, taller than the red oaks and maples living there now. Thirty years ago, the first winter would have killed those little saplings, but the winters are no longer so harsh.

Why did I plant them? Call it worry. Call it knowing that in another thirty years my back yard may be too hot a world for the sugar maples I love so much. Call it knowing that if there’s a die-off of maples and oaks, at least these tulip trees from a southern biome will survive to help build a new forest for New Hampshire. Our state is 80% woods.

Curious why the seasons where I live have been shoved back a month, I set about studying climate dynamics and Gaia Theory in earnest about eight years ago. My early background studying science at Duke helped a lot. Biology. Statistics. Geology. Calculus. The sorts of intellectual tools that allow science to make sense, even to a non-scientist like me. Gaia Theory is a bundle of sciences that looks at earth as a vast, self-regulating organism. It combines every science, from chemistry and physics to botany, biology and geology. And all the disciplines in between. It’s not a religion.

Since for thirty years climatologists have been warning of what’s upon us now–– despite members of Congress holding snowballs in Washington, D.C. and asking, “What global warming? Hell, it just snowed.”––the message hasn’t gotten through to the American people. With hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in our recent past, however, it may be sinking in. Our local Caribbean paradise has been destroyed this fall. And there’s no guarantee that next year, more superstorms won’t come and scour off the last untouched islands. Not to mention more of the Gulf Coast.

Snowballs have never been the point in all this anyway. It’s not that it doesn’t still get cold. It’s simply the changing patterns of cold. And heat. And the same old things humans have known for millennia. Storms. Droughts. Thaws. Downpours. Heat waves. Forests. Deserts. Beaches. No, it’s the trend lines that the people who pay attention to climate are most worried about.

Ever boiled an egg? On medium heat, thin streams of bubbles begin to drift upward from the bottom past the egg. Keep the heat on and it will take a while, but eventually your egg will cook.

That consistent stream of bubbles reminds me of the Holocene Epoch, the last ten thousand years of climate history. A time during which a consistent rate of boil on earth provided monsoons and seasons, snowpacks and standard sea levels for our coastal cities. A time when rain fell and ancient glaciers melted, providing reliable river flows down to the coasts. A period that allowed human populations to grow from a few hundred thousand hunter/gatherers wandering around following game to the billions of us living in mega-cities today. Most of our greatest cities sit at the edge of the sea.

Now, put a lid on the pot and watch closely. Without the steam escaping the open top, the same amount of incoming heat is trapped and the bubbles become larger and less uniform. Your egg cooks much more quickly, too.

Of course, the metaphor is this: the pot is the earth and the lid is greenhouse gases. The bigger bubbles? More extreme weather events, since that’s all weather really is. Bubbles. Just big ones, drifting around under our thin skin of atmosphere, which, even though it seems so immense, is a closed system. A pot with a lid we ourselves have put on it.

With all this in my mind I went to Boulder this past mid-September with an idea I developed over the summer along with David Takahashi, a producer out there, and a committee of climate scientists who helped jury the concept. Called 16 TITANS, it’s a grassroots effort to turn climate scientists and activists into good storytellers. Good enough to explain to congressmen about snowballs in winter. Not by using graphs and data, but instead by turning that hard-to-grasp truth into stories anybody can understand.

A young woman scientist from NCAR in Boulder (National Center for Atmospheric Research) in one of my workshops described her work. She studies cloud cover and mentioned how water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas in and of itself. It traps heat close to earth’s surface, too. The problem is not just CO2 and methane. “How do I tell a story about that?” she asked.

As I was thinking, she mentioned an interesting theory about the planet Venus. Planetary scientists theorize that at some point in solar system history, Venus entrapped so much heat that its water seas boiled off, releasing even more vapor and leaving Venus in a permanent state of super-heating with a surface temperature of 864 degrees, hot enough to melt lead. This could potentially happen to earth, she worried, if we don’t get a handle on the heat feedback loop. The clouds she studied would play an increasing part in such an awful scenario.

“Begin your story on ancient Venus,” I said. “Place your listeners’ POV (point of view) at a beach, only the sea before you is boiling. The air is noxious and the heat is unbearable, and you’re a human. In the few seconds you have before you lose consciousness, the pain is horrific and you can smell ammonia everywhere. This is the end result you worry about. It’s scary and sad. So once you’ve described this atmospheric end game, then move to earth today, and tell your listeners that no planet is exempt from change like this. Not if you know physics and chemistry and how matter behaves in the presence of energy. It all depends upon heat feedback loops. Point to the trends. That gives you an opening to describe your research more fully.”

Other Coloradans in my workshop were worried about fracking, the first extractive industry ever to dot people’s back yards. They are wildly and desperately against it, mostly due to the fouling of groundwater. They presented another case in point.

“Do you know how amazingly creative a technology fracking is?” I asked. “Do you know everything about the process?” I’ve researched it quite a bit for books, and frankly marvel at the engineering involved. That’s wholly different from wanting to keep it out of my back yard, or my neighbor’s back yard (since that means it’s essentially under my back yard, too), poisoning my well water.

Even if you hate its effects, you can’t escape the elegance of the technology. And if you’re trying to keep it out of your own town, don’t demonize the people who invented and survive on it (wouldn’t it be nice, geopolitically, to no longer need oil from the Saudis?), but instead praise their ingenuity and be honest about it. That might do far more to convince them to sit down and compromise here and there than to scream in some intersectional crowd, holding up an obscene placard. In other words, honor thine enemy. Better than getting everybody’s backs up in a fury of competing economic visions. At least among Americans. Despite our warts, we’re still the greatest republic on earth.

And so the workshops went. People told stories and came to the conclusion that “climate deniers” have just been better storytellers than we Cassandras. Climate activists see the future and fear the long term. Deniers want to survive in the short term and live in luxury. Both groups see the short term. It’s in the news every day. But to imagine the long one, well, that takes a solidly skilled imagination.

Somewhere between those two perspectives, in a democracy, there has to be common ground.

More on the 16 TITANS project to come.

 

 

 

 

DRUIDS AND HALLOWEEN: Heartpounders Show Tonight in Nashua, NH

As part of the introduction for tonight’s show, HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror, I’ve be delving into some ancient history. Albion, the old name for England, which means “the white land” (probably because of the chalk cliffs of Dover), when Julius Caesar arrived to conquer it, was a pagan land. People believed in nature spirits, living in a land of mostly forests. This was centuries before the Vatican sent its missionaries to convert the druidical people living there to Christianity.

Caesar wrote about the druids, the priests of the time. They believed that mistletoe was magical, since it lived in clusters on oak tree branches without any visible root systems. They built giant wicker cages in which they burned alive slaves and enemies during a harvest celebration called Samhain. Modern witches still celebrate Samhain. “Witch” derives from the same root words as “wicker”, “wicked”, “willow” and other words, which in their day referred to the ability to use natural herbs to heal (willow contains salicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin).

When the leaves fell and the darkness of winter approached, Celtic people believed that the boundary between the living and the invisible forces beyond the grave thinned out. Every manner of ghost, goblin and bogie was able to cross over into the world. Rituals to keep them at bay were held at this time of year.

Fast forward to today. Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve (during the later Christianization of the British Isles by Vatican prelates, they did their best to stamp out this night of primitive beliefs by declaring it sacred, or “hallowed”) has proven to be a tough root to pull out. In America at least, this ancient rite is still animated by parties, costumes and monsters.

Tonight’s show of very scary stories with music begins at 7 pm at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH. It’s not meant for children.

Music is on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and alto recorder.

Tickets

TWO SHOWS IN NH THIS WEEKEND/No Cellphones Required

“Smartphone dystopia” is a term recently coined by Google engineers who now send their young kids to elite Silicon Valley schools that ban smartphones and iPads. Read about that here.

To completely escape smartphone dystopia, at least for an hour, tonight I’ll be performing a story show, THE HARVEST: Tales of the Land at 6 pm in Gilford, NH for the Belknap County Farm Bureau. My audience: farmers. Three disarming and insightful adult stories, with echoes of the Monsanto vs organics war. It’s a private function.

However, Sunday night’s show at 7 pm is public. HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror unfolds at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Composed of the grittiest, most unsettling supernatural tales I know, the show includes mythic material from New England, Russia, China and other far flung places. It also explores Samhain, the old Celtic celebration, and how it was turned into All Hallow’s Eve by the Church during the conversion centuries following St. Patrick’s and others’ arrivals among the Druid pagan sacrificers of Northern Europe.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $13 at the door.

You’ll have a chance to enjoy your natural imagination at work, without a single “Like” button.

Have a great weekend!

HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror in Nashua, NH Oct. 8

From man-eating werepanthers (think werewolves) who must kill their own father to a dark road wraith chased across New England by Nature’s vengeance, these tales of horror build to climactic scenes in your imagination. Heck, they scare me!

Driven by virtuoso 12-string guitar playing, Celtic harp and other instruments along with riveting character voices and vocal effects, each of the evening’s tales are guaranteed to take you deep into your worst fears. And don’t forget the story of a greedy priest in Russia who bleeds everywhere he’s donned the skin of a dead goat.

Horrible, yes. Fun, yes. Plus ancient Celtic lore about the origins of All Hallow’s Eve.

Sunday, October 8th at 7 pm. at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Tickets $13 at the door, $10 in advance here!

WHEN MOTHER NATURE DECLARES WAR: Houston and Hurricane Harvey

It’s simple. As the planet’s air warms it holds more water vapor. That means that when it rains, it pours. For three decades, climate scientists have tried to get their message out and much of the world has ignored them. They predicted storms just like Harvey, and here it is, along with Sandy in New York. But giving storms human names diminishes what they are. In truth, they’re weather monsters. They should be named Godzilla, or Hurricane Frankenstein.

Science can be hard to understand, but stories aren’t. If you want to help those climate scientists convince the public and learn to tell science-based stories about climate disruption yourself, come to Boulder, Colorado this September.

Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Warrior Principle, Climate Action, Boulder’s climate symposium, takes place Sept. 15-17 at Shambhala Center. This year there’s a new emphasis: climate storytelling. Join us.

Science Storytellers in Boulder

How do we reach the many Americans who, despite abundant facts everywhere, deny that man-made climate disruption is real and increasingly dangerous to humankind and earth’s creatures? Some believe it is God’s plan and there’s nothing to be done, nor should anything be done. Others are paid to call the science into question by business interests, despite the fact that the CIA and American military have been sounding the alarm for years. Our current president either believes that it’s not real or that adapting to the tipping-point nightmares in our near future can be done with sea walls and immigration walls.

The national conversation about climate we’re having today may well be the most important one we Americans have this decade, and to help with that, I’ll be journeying to Boulder, Colorado to join others this coming mid-September to lend storytelling skills to climate scientists and activists.

Composed of measurements and numbers as much of science is, it can be lost in the noise of entertainments we Americans so love. Climate stories, however, written and spoken by growing numbers of informed citizens, have a chance to break through to an inattentive public.

Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Warrior Principle, Climate Action Symposium takes place Sept. 15-17 2017 at the Shambhala Center in Boulder.

Saturday night I’ll be performing Gaia: Fall of the Titans, the Greek creation myth, followed up with a StoryScience presentation.

Saturday morning and afternoon I’ll be offering a special DOOR TO IMAGINATION: HOW TO AWAKEN YOUR INNER STORYTELLER workshop for climate scientists and activists.

Join us for this important conversation. You can register and purchase tickets for the Symposium here.

Please join us!

 

Odds Bodkin