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.

Candles and Imagination

Long ago, when I began telling stories, I’d light a candelabrum at my feet. There in a darkened room the flames would dance across my face and kids loved it, until, of course, schools started to say, “No more, Mr. Bodkin. A kid might go up in flames. You dripped wax on our floor. Leave your portable campfire at home.” Even though I always cleaned up the wax, I stopped doing my candlelight shows.

I still recommend candelight, though, to people listening to my stories, especially the epics. Light a candle. Turn down the lights. Listen and dream.

Something about the flame quickens the mind’s eye.

For instance, Detroit Jewish News reviewed my telling of David and Goliath and said, “With nothing more than his guitar and voice, Odds Bodkin manages to paint a scene more captivating than much of what you see on the big screen.”

It won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, the Storytelling World Award and the Dove Foundation Award. It’s an hour long.

Beowulf: The Only One just won the Storytelling World Award as well. It was recorded before a live adult audience in Cambridge, MA. It’s an hour and 20 minutes.

You can find lots of long-form stories like this at my download shop. Happy listening!

 

 

One Grandmother’s Quest to Send an Odyssey Recording to her Grandchildren

An email to Odds Bodkin’s Shop from this morning, April 24th:

Hope you can help me. I ordered The Odyssey Collection as a gift for my grandchildren but did not realize I had no way to send them the link and think somehow it is now in my email only. At this point I don’t remember my original password since I forwarded the email from you acknowledging my order to my daughter who could not download the stories because I did not have the password. When I went to password reset I was also unable to change the password.

So, if it is possible to send this gift to my daughter who can then set up whatever password she wants to use so these darling 9 and 10 year old grandchildren who are at the moment captivated by Homer can hear your wonderful music and voice, I would be grateful.

Please advise.
M*** C*** P*****

Odds Bodkin’s Shop replies:

Dear M***

If you can send us your daughter’s email address, we will send her a digital gift card
usable at our shop for $49.95. She can visit the shop, follow the directions and download
The Odyssey using her own email. She pays at checkout using the code on the
gift card.

We look forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks for your order, too, of course.

Best regards,

ODDS BODKIN CUSTOMER SERVICE

 

M*** C*** P***** replies:

You have given me a success in my Stay-At-Home week for which I am very appreciative. Thank you. Know this little family will be ever so happy listening together and hope they will continue to be Odds Bodkin fans for their lifetimes. The power of great literature well read and good music well played are a rare but winning combination.

My daughter, M*** C**** E********’s email address is *************@bellsouth.net

Hope you have a good day today and stay healthy.
M*** C*** P*****

 

GIFT CARD SENT. QUEST OVER.

The Odyssey, Beowulf, David and Goliath, Hercules, and Sir Percival and the Fisher King are Classic Epics

At 4 hours and 8 minutes, The Odyssey is the longest of Odds Bodkin’s epic audio tales, but the others average well over 70 minutes.

The Little Proto Trilogy, his original dinosaur adventure series, is more than 3 hours of immersive listening for kids 4 and up. They’ll listen again and again and again, especially at bedtime.

Get all these and 12 other FULL-LENGTH STORYTELLING ALBUMS on the EPIC DRIVE.

$99.95

You can listen to samples of all these award-winning mp3 audios at Odds Bodkin’s Shop.

 

 

Journey to the Ends of the Earth: 4 hours of The Odyssey

A hero’s journey like no other.

Narrated with live music on Celtic harp and 12-string guitar featuring 37 character voices.

Odds Bodkin’s 4-hour epic audio story, The Odyssey: An Epic Telling.

Odysseus. The Cyclops. Circe. The Sirens. Troy. Ithaca. The Underworld. The Isle of Cannibals. The Whirlpool. The Hall of Suitors. 42 episodes in all. 4 hours 8 minutes.

“a tour de force“–Dartmouth Department of Classics

“a consummate storyteller”–The New York Times

Download it here for $49.95

 

WINNER of the 2020 STORYTELLING WORLD AWARD: an hour and 20 minutes of intense audio adventure

When Odds Bodkin set out to tell Beowulf, he knew he’d need to create two classic monsters: Grendel and Grendel’s Mother. And musical themes for each on 12-string guitar. Of course, a lovable voice for Beowulf himself was required for contrast.

The result of years of work is Beowulf: The Only One, Bodkin’s award-winning 1 hour and 20 minute tale for adults. Don’t invite the kids to listen because it’s just too horrific in places, but if you’d like a genuine feature-length movie for the mind, download this epic today!

$19.95

While you’re at Odds’ Shop, grab an Odyssey: An Epic Telling. 4 hours of more award-winning audio.

Educational and Fun Stories from Cultures Around the World

Tales from ancient Greece, England, Denmark, South Africa, Russia, China, Native America, India, France, Japan, the good old USA and more. Told with characters, fun vocal effects and live acoustic music.

Award-Winning Odds Bodkin Stories.

Just because your body’s locked down, doesn’t mean your mind should be.

DOWNLOADS DELIVERED INSTANTLY.