PROFESSOR REVIEWS ODDS BODKIN’S UNIVERSITY SHOW ON ZOOM

Joseph Walsh is the current Chair of Classics and Co-Director of the Honors Program at Loyola University Maryland. On September 10, 2020, storyteller Odds Bodkin and Walsh tried an experiment: since the university went completely virtual for Fall, would Bodkin’s annual Classics performance of The Iliad or The Odyssey work on Zoom?

Here is Walsh’s review:

“Odds Bodkin has been thrilling our students every Fall for years now with his live performances, and this year’s zoom performance of Iliad Book 1 was every bit as successful. We have gotten a good deal of feedback from the attendees, and it indicates that they were mesmerized, as usual.  Indeed, several students who had seen Odds perform in the past – and he has fans who come back every year – considered it even better.  They loved the fact that they could see his face up close, watch his fingers dance across his guitar and harp, and they thought not a bit of the usual intensity and beauty of his performance was lost.  I agree.  It was just terrific.  Several students said they broke out into applause at the end, even though they knew Odds could not hear them, and a few even said they gave him a standing ovation, though they knew he could not see them.  They were just carried away, as was I.  We were a bit apprehensive about having a zoom performance, but our apprehensions were completely unfounded.  Great performance, as usual, and every bit as impactful.  And it transported our students, who are studying remotely and feeling confined and disappointed with the current circumstances, beyond their homes, beyond these times, and beyond this world.”


Bodkin’s next Zoom performance is yet another of his renowned tellings of Greek myths. Hercules in Hell comes online live on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 5 pm EST. Buy a ticket, get your Zoom invitation, and settle in for an epic imaginative experience.

An Endangered Tradition Makes the Leap to ZOOM

It’s been thirteen years since Martha Taylor, Chair of Classics at Loyola University Maryland, first invited me to perform The Iliad or The Odyssey live before her audience of Classics and Honors students. Every September since then, I’ve journeyed to Baltimore, stayed with my sister Lindsay at her place outside the city, and then gone to campus for one of the two shows. Afterwards, Martha and Joe Walsh, another amazing Classics professor, would always take me out for some fine dining.

Then came Covid and the university went totally remote for the fall semester. No students on campus. Everybody on Zoom. As with so many traditions, here was another one endangered by the virus. I though for sure it was over.

But guess what? Last night, with my excellent Zoom producer Gavin Bodkin and event techs from Loyola co-coordinating, I performed The Iliad: Book I live at 7 pm. It worked! A hundred and twenty-nine students logged on and they all stayed at their screens for the entire telling. We followed with a live Q&A, and all but three stayed for that. They even typed in their questions, lots of them, about the music and character voices, and I answered onscreen, explaining how it was done. It was a solid hour and lots of fun.

No fine dining this year, but the show went on.

The art was made.

I am pleased as punch.


My next ZOOM concert is THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA.

Sunday Sept. 20th at 5 pm EST.

Tickets: $15 per screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO WAS HOMER?

Some say Homer was a sightless genius like John Milton. Milton dictated his three massive poems—The Divine Comedy—to an amanuensis who wrote them down. Homer, however, performed his poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, aloud and before live audiences. Scholars guess that Homer used character voices and lyre music during his shows to bring his tales to life. He lived in Ancient Greece circa 700 B.C.

While The Iliad is filled with horrifyingly vivid descriptions of battlefield carnage and details about what swords and spears can do to a human body, The Odyssey is more of a fantastical adventure. It features monsters, cannibals, enchantresses, drugged out Lotus Eaters and many-headed dragons. Much of it takes place out on the open sea as Odysseus wanders from island to island across the Mediterranean. Here, as his fleet is slowly destroyed and all his friends are killed, he becomes the last man standing after ten years of woe. Only he returns to his island of Ithaca alive.

Even then, things aren’t easy. He’s been gone twenty years and the sons of Ithaca have grown into rowdy, fatherless men.

It must have taken Homer many nights to recite his monumental works in their entirety. At some point scribes set down his famous words and what was until that point oral literature held in one man’s mind became written literature for the ages. The two epics have been translated into English, and I used Robert Fitzgerald’s version to map out the best of Odysseus’s adventures for modern listeners.

I’ll be performing my intro to the tale, THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST in about a month, on ZOOM. The 70-minute show is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. Tickets are $15. The date is Sunday, Sept. 20th at 7 pm EST.

Years ago, when I performed it at Dartmouth College, a professor wrote that my version is the closest thing we have to a Homeric performance.

This is the second in my three-part Greek myths for adults series on ZOOM. If you want to see what a Greek myth like this looks and sounds like, you’re welcome to listen to FALL OF THE TITANS, here on YouTube. I told this tale a couple of weeks ago.

SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES AND CLUBS MOVING TO ZOOM SHOWS WITH ODDS BODKIN

With all the uncertainly surrounding school openings, Loyola University Maryland has decided to go completely remote. Students won’t be on campus, but to preserve a twelve-year Odds Bodkin September tradition, the Department of Classics has chosen to invite Odds once again, only this time via ZOOM. The performance: THE ILIAD: BOOK I.

Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, a location in Boston where Odds has regaled adult ticketed audiences for years, wants to preserve the magic. The two shows coming up on ZOOM sponsored by Grendel’s? THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST on September 20th and HERCULES IN HELL on October 18th.

Simonds School in Warner, New Hampshire had to postpone a 2-day GOLDEN RULE: WORLD STORIES ABOUT EMPATHY residency for K-2 and 3-5 last spring with Odds. But with an HD video and sound ZOOM studio, he’ll be visiting the school anyway. Two performances on full-screen, followed by interactive workshops with the students will take place on September 21st and 22nd.

Yes, there’s a pandemic. Crowds of listeners crammed into big rooms, especially crowds of kids, are problematic these days.

But Odds’ brand of performing arts—always a complete one–man show—doesn’t require a troop of actors onstage, sets or backup musicians. Odds provides all that in his musical storytelling shows. Even Classics and Honors students and their professors at Loyola know that.

If your kids or grandkids go to a school, give them live Odds Bodkin stories by suggesting programs to teachers and principals. Every seat is a front row experience.

To find out more, go here.

TONIGHT at 7 PM EST: Odds Bodkin Live on Zoom Telling FALL OF THE TITANS

Grab a $15 ticket here and join Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin for a real-time Zoom performance of FALL OF THE TITANS. The show is tonight at 7 pm Eastern Standard time.

Background lore on Celtic harp, then the tale told with characters, narration and a full score on 12-string guitar.

Gaia gives birth to Titans. All is well on the early Earth until she starts to make monsters. Then things fall apart.

An adult Greek mythology epic storytelling. No children, please.


Your ticket buys the URL and password.

Find a screen and join the event!

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“a consummate storyteller” — The New York Times

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square.

 

 

GAIA’S MONSTERS: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s ZOOM Performance this Sunday at 7pm/FALL OF THE TITANS

Up until this point in FALL OF THE TITANS, Gaia the Earth has brought forth perfect human-like children with Ouranos, her husband, Titan of the Sky. She’s given birth to twelve Titan babies in all, each soon in charge of creating an ecosystem.

But this new infant is different. This newborn is a Cyclops, already gigantic as babies go. Even Titan babies.

“I love all my children equally, Ouranos,” Gaia says to horrified Ouranos as she cuddles the one-eyed infant. “And not everything I make is perfect.” She gently pokes the baby’s chest. “Hello, little Arges.” The infant glares at her and then screams like a thousand stabbed goats, even though he’s just been nursed. His Cyclops tummy is full, but still he makes this unnerving sound. It certainly unnerves Ouranos. He has no idea what this means, but it does not bode well.

In a nutshell, here is Gaia, the Earth Mother, the first being of all beings in Greek mythology, or as Ouranos calls her, “Queen of Us All.” Just as with our modern earth, in this fanciful mythological tale, life pours forth from Gaia all across her surface.

Her job is to make life, and in FALL OF THE TITANS, she does so, at times to a fault. She cannot control her fecundity, and she doesn’t really want to because it’s just too important to keep on creating. After all, one of her very first creations is Eros, the attraction between things, which binds the Universe together, and she’s still just as endlessly driven by the lust and love Eros brings as anybody else.

The only difference is, Gaia can create any living thing she likes.

Of any size.

In any form.

She can do it all by herself if she wants to. Ouranos secretly hopes that’s what she just did to create this baby Cyclops.

Maybe he’s not the father, Ouranos thinks. It would be nice if that were true. Maybe she used parthenogenesis, and created this little beast the same way she created Ouranos himself, long ago, from the flesh of her flesh.

He has no idea of the monsters to come.


FALL OF THE TITANS

An Odds Bodkin Virtual Storytelling Event

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square

Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm EST on ZOOM

TICKETS: $15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAIA: AN ANCIENT MYSTERY

The name “Gaia” entered the popular lexicon along with the “Gaia Hypothesis”, a theory proposed by scientist James Lovelock that views the Earth as a vast, self-regulating organism. Gaia hails from the mythology of the ancient Greeks, who viewed her as the originator of life on Earth, and as the Earth itself. This is all pre-scientific thinking, of course, but nevertheless, Gaia’s story is a creation myth worth knowing.

With Nature in revolt in many formerly livable lands across the planet due to an excess of human activity, the consequences of which are drought, flooding, see-sawing periods of hot and cold, crop losses, human migration, pandemics and social stress, among others, renewed interest in the original Gaia story isn’t surprising.

Upon reading the Greek poet Hesiod’s most famous work, The Theogony, or “Birth of the Gods”, as a storyteller I decided to create a version of this old Greek creation myth from Gaia’s point of view. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, takes a similar tack only with the Arthurian legends: the author views the events of Arthur and Lancelot from the POVs of the women of Camelot and the Lady of the Lake.

In Babylonian mythology’s creation myth, the Enuma Elis, the primordial Gaia goddess is called Tiamat. In one benign version of the story she is the feminine salt water who mixes with male fresh water to produce early life. In another version, Tiamat is a monster, a vengeful bringer of storms and chaos.

In my FALL OF THE TITANS tale, Gaia is a little bit of both.

I’ll be performing it Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm EST on Zoom. A $15 ticket will buy you the URL and a password to join the event. It’s sponsored by Grendel’s Den, where I’ve told FALL OF THE TITANS to adult audiences before. I also performed it at the Boulder Climate Conference a few years ago. It’s a fun evening, filled with characters and music on 12-string guitar.

It is not for children, however, since there is treachery and sexual violence in the tale.

To read more backstory on FALL OF THE TITANS, scroll through my recent blog posts. You’ll find more articles about the characters and situations in the epic.

FALL OF THE TITANS

Odds Bodkin, Storyteller and Musician

July 19th at 7 pm on ZOOM

Tickets: $15

 

 

 

THE DEATH AND RE-BIRTH OF STORYTELLING

THE DEATH OF STORYTELLING

My last show before a flesh and blood audience was at Grendel’s Den, a famous watering hole in Cambridge, MA, on March 8th . Even then, that Sunday night, waiting backstage in the sold-out club, I felt a squirt of paranoia. Word was there was a deadly new virus loose on the streets of America. Meanwhile, here I was telling Norse myths with huge voices and guitar music to a bustling crowd in a single big room in Boston.

Squirting hand sanitizer on me, I remember telling myself, “Well, if it’s here, there’s nothing you can do about it. Do your show and get home.”

Turns out it wasn’t there.

Since my business is to travel places to meet live audiences, I’d always used hand sanitizer during the flu season, but that night, no one at Grendel’s wore a mask. It was unthinkable and not yet necessary. Mask-wearing in public was what they did in the crowded lands of SARS. Places like Hong Kong and China, not the U.S.

How things have changed.

The next week, mid-March, as I’m sure you remember, the country shut down. Schools closed. Restaurants. Sports events. Gatherings of any kind. We all went into isolation, if we were lucky, just after we stripped store shelves of sanitizer, TP, water and food.

The hard waves of the pandemic then struck, particularly in New York, where I’d spent my twenties. Meanwhile, so many people tumbled out of work, Congress passed the CARE Act, an unheardof moment of generosity in America, but also, an act of economic self-preservation for a government wary of food riots.

Now here it is, months later, just after a Fourth of July like no other, midway through a summer of discontentment riots, which are much the same thing. Most of the rioters wear masks. In New Hampshire where I live, everybody wears one in public now. Elsewhere, though, freedom-loving mask-deniers laugh at kow-towed mask-wearers, while mask-wearers despise mask-deniers for what they deem selfish ignorance and the idiotic spreading of predictable death. Certain industries—sports, cruise lines, hotels, eateries—have taken a tragic downturn and a new, distanced normal has set in, except wherever in beach country they’re not hurriedly shutting the beaches again as cases surge.

2020. A year for the history books.

Meanwhile, in my little world, live storytelling for crowds of happy kids has become illegal. So has live storytelling for crowds of happy adults, as I was doing back on March 8th. It’s the same for everybody else in the people business. Late night hosts working alone in their basements aren’t funny any more. Newscasters with their makeup and hair looking funky endure interruptions by their bored kids while on live TV.

The glitz is gone.

And this Fourth of July weekend, millions of families aren’t driving anywhere. Instead, they’re getting together with grandma and grandpa over Zoom.

 

THE REBIRTH OF STORYTELLING

Looking to adapt, even I’ve done a few shows on Zoom, from my attic studio. Two schools, both in Massachusetts, and a public library in New York State, have bought and paid for Zoom shows. Not that many, but enough for me to have tested the system, and with my producer, Gavin, perfected HD sound and video. Unlike most other entertainers, I’m already stripped down and have been for decades. My hair is already bad. I don’t wear makeup. I have no backup dancers. And my kids are grown up, so they won’t interrupt me. In fact, they’re helping me.

Back to Grendel’s Den, because Kari, who owns the place and runs it, and I, who have performed there for years, have ongoing intersecting business interests. She’s just recently been able to go from take-out only to socially distanced outdoor seating, so at least she’s getting to sell food and drink again. But inside, there’s no way shows can be mounted. Not yet. Many are saying not until a vaccine is ready. Meanwhile, Kari wants to maintain the zeitgeist of her operation, and part of that is me.

Back to Zoom. A month ago Kari and her team decided to sponsor and promote a show of mine, one of Kari’s favorites, Fall of the Titans. So I said sure, let’s try it. Instead of tickets for seats in your club, we’ll sell tickets for a Zoom meeting URL and a password. I’ve got a pretty solid base of fans down in Boston and elsewhere, so maybe they’ll go for this, we reasoned. The storytelling won’t be live in space but it will be live in time, so that’s something. In her club, people sat way in the back, sixty feet away, for a $20 ticket. For most, I’d think, I was too far away for them to watch the characters’ facial expressions I create as I work, but with Zoom, well, the camera’s just a couple of feet away. So every seat in a Zoom show is better than the best of the VIP front row table seats folks were paying for before in a live show. Plus, Kari suggested, we could do a Q&A afterwards, taking questions from the audience, something unworkable in a club setting. She wants to be the MC for those questions. Sure, I said, let’s give it a try. Fall of the Titans is at 7 pm on the East Coast, so Californians could watch it live at 4 pm. Folks in Europe would need to stay up until 1 in the morning to start watching, but who knows, this is live on the web and you never know what people will do.

So it’s on for July 19th at 7 pm EST.

Fall of the Titans is too intense a tale for young children. It’s cosmic and elemental Greek mythology with some very disturbing scenes. It is, however, the story of how the Greek gods came to be born, and why the Titans, their parents, fell. Hot stuff if you like myths.

On my blog here I’m writing semi-scholarly articles about it leading up to the performance. They’re good for background because even people familiar with Greek mythology aren’t necessarily familiar with this earliest of origin tales.

So, we’ll try to re-birth my storytelling in pandemic times and see what happens. If it works, we’ll do more of these adult shows on Zoom. I hope you attend.

Tickets $15

GAIA’S SECRET WEAPON: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS Adult Storytelling July 19th on Zoom

You can feel your immense dragon wings folded flat against your mile-long body as you grind through the dark tunnels of Tartarus, Gaia’s subterranean womb. You, Typhon, are her secret killing machine, her ultimate monster. With your dragon heads and giant claws and your sheer immensity, she’s placed her last hopes for victory in you. Overhead, the war on Earth’s surface against the gods has been going on for ten years now, and Gaia is worried the Titans will soon be defeated. If that moment comes, she will free you through the Earth’s crust with one mission only: to swiftly grasp and kill the god Zeus. Only you, Typhon, are powerful enough to do it.

Zeus’s betrayal is especially bitter for Gaia, because it was she who saved him as a baby from Cronus, his father, who had devoured all Zeus’s siblings up until that point. It was she who had hidden newborn Zeus on Crete, far from Cronus’s seeking gaze. She’d secretly visited the young god and watched him grow up. He’d called her “grandmother dear,” and she’d loved that. In her wildest dreams she’d never imagined he was capable of such treachery.

He’d hidden his true powers from her all along.

Well, Typhon, now it is Gaia’s turn to be treacherous, because she has hidden you from Zeus. He has no idea you exist.

That will be a fatal mistake.


FALL OF THE TITANS: An Epic Tale from Greek Mythology

Adult Storytelling with Characters and Live Music by Odds Bodkin

Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm EST on Zoom

TICKETS: $15

 

SPONSORED BY GRENDEL’S DEN IN CAMBRIDGE, MA

THE BIRTH OF APHRODITE, ELDEST OF THE GODS–Mythology Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS Zoom Performance July 19th

 

Ouranos is a good guy. He’s the Titan of the Sky, after all, and father to Gaia the Earth Mother’s twelve perfect children. As one of the very first titans she created along with the mountains and the sea, Ouranos is flattered when Gaia asks him to become her king. He’s a gentle, protective father who revels in his children’s creative talents. He watches Oceanus turn the sea to salt, and Phoebe invent prophecy. Tethys creates streams and rivers. Hyperion invents the moon and sun. On and on. They’re a talented bunch. And yes, as they begin to marry one another, the whole thing is incestuous, but who else are the first beings supposed to mate with? It’s a myth, after all.

Tickets $15

When next a daughter, Rhea, is born, she has no obvious talent. She’s beautiful, but that’s about it. Ouranos even comments on Rhea’s mysterious lack of talent to Gaia, but she replies, “Not everything I make is perfect.”

Cronus, the last born of the twelve titan children, has no talent either, apparently, other than to covet everything he sees. He’s a greedy fellow who’s convinced he knows more than anybody else.

However, the real family-destroying problem arises when Gaia gives birth to a Cyclops. Although it’s just a baby, Ouranos knows it will grow up to be larger than any of the titans and will be very dangerous. “Why did you make that?” Ouranos asks her, shocked. Cooing at her baby monster, she replies, “Not everything I make is perfect.”

Things grow worse when she births two more Cyclopses and then three hideous, many-armed, many-headed beasts called Hecas, each the size of a mountain. After all, creating life is what she does and she can’t really control herself. All these monsters, once they grow up, will dominate the titans, Ouranos knows, and so he carves six prison cells into the rock walls of underground Tartarus and locks the screaming baby monsters inside them.

Tickets $15

“Free my children!” Gaia demands, but he refuses, claiming he doesn’t need her permission. This mistake proves terrible for Ouranos, because for the first time in her existence, Gaia grows angry. As volcanoes erupt and earthquakes shake the land, her calm, patient side vanishes and she plunges into a vengeful fury.

Deciding the Sky is no longer worthy of being her king, she sharpens a sickle and holds it up before her twelve children. “Who among you will castrate your father so that he is no longer king?” she roars. Horrified at the thought, eleven shake their heads. But then Cronus, he who covets power, asks, “If I do it, mother, will I become King of the Universe?” “Yes, my son, you will,” she replies.

As the story goes, Cronus ambushes Ouranos and does it, hurling his screaming father’s sex organs into the sea. A pink foam wells up from where they sank and upon it appears a seashell. The foam floats to shore, the shell opens, and out steps a tiny goddess, fully-grown and stunningly beautiful.

Thusly, from the sex of a fallen king, the sexiest goddess of them all is born, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

She is the first Olympian god. At this point, no others have been born.

No one knows what to make of her.

 


FALL OF THE TITANS: An Adult Storytelling on Zoom

Odds Bodkin

July 19, 2020 at 7 pm EST

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

A WOMB OF ROCK: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS July 19th Zoom Performance

Tartarus.

Chances are, if you’re familiar with the word at all, it conjures up some dark subterranean prison for ancient Greek titans–towering, evil creatures made of stone–and other bad actors. Take Sisyphus, for example. He’s imprisoned down there. He rolls a boulder all the way up a mountain, only to have it tumble back down, just as he reaches the top. He does this over and over, hence the term “a Sisyphean task”—doing something pointless. Another denizen of Tartarus is evil Tantalus, a demigod king who cut up his son and served him, boiled, to the Gods of Olympus. For all eternity he now starves beneath a fruit tree just out of reach, above a pond whose water recedes whenever he kneels to drink.

But peel away the deeper layers of Greek mythology, back to the time before the gods and humans, and Tartarus wasn’t a super-max prison for ancient Greek bad guys. Anything but. Instead, it was a place of divine feminine creation. A place where the sky, sea and mountains were first born, after Gaia had poured out the stars and created gravity, or, as it was called, Eros.

According to the Greeks, Gaia, the Earth, was the first thing to exist anywhere. She emerged from the silence and stillness of Chaos, and became self-aware. She was the first titan, and the first thing she created was her womb. Tartarus was so deep in the Earth that later, Zeus claimed a bronze anvil, dropped from the Underworld, would fall for nine days before it reached this place.

It was here that she created Ouranos, the Sky, her future husband, and the other early titans who fashioned the first ecosystems.

It was in Tartarus that her husband Ouranos locked away six of Gaia’s children, which enraged her.

It was in Tartarus that she created Typhon, a monster made for one purpose: to kill her grandson Zeus after he betrayed her.

And it was in Tartarus that Zeus imprisoned Gaia’s beloved family of creators forever in darkness, far beneath the light-filled life systems that they originally made.


FALL OF THE TITANS–A Live Odds Bodkin Zoom Performance on July 19, 2020 at 7 pm EST.

Tickets are $15.

SUNDAY JULY 19TH at 7 PM: Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS

From Odds Bodkin’s cave of magic comes a ZOOM performance that translates 100%: FALL OF THE TITANS.

Where did the Greek gods come from? Who were the Titans? Who was Gaia? Why did Cronus the Titan swallow his Olympian children? How did only Zeus survive?

Find out in a feature-length adult storytelling on Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm. Buy your ticket, get your ZOOM invitation and password, then sit back and watch elemental characters come to life. Greek lore explained with Celtic harp music, then a tale told with 12-string guitar.

Every seat is a front row seat.

A performance for adults. No young children please.

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA.

Tickets are $15.