WOMEN FREE TO BE ANGRY

All right. I don’t look like much, I agree.

A portly, middle-aged white dude in a chair with a couple of instruments. Two microphones on booms. Not much else. No flashing lights. No background dancers or singers. No pyrotechnics to burn the house down.

I’m definitely not pretty.

Nevertheless, this coming Sunday night, Feb. 10th, 2019 at 5 pm at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA, I’m performing WORLDS APART: TALES FOR LOVERS. The show is two stories, The Crane Wife and The Dame Ragnell. Two ancient love tales about women either being thrilled or disappointed by the men in their lives, or feeling both emotions at the same time. And how their men, following their own rules, see the women.

Old, old stuff.

I once heard a beautiful woman say, “I married a prince. And look, he turned into a frog.”

These stories might well make you weep.

 

Odds Bodkin

WORLDS APART: TALES FOR LOVERS

Feb. 10, 2019 at 5 pm

Grendel’s Den, Cambridge MA

 

TICKETS

Beginning of the World: The Ancient Greek Version–Tomorrow Night!

Beginning of the World: The Ancient Greek Version–Tomorrow Night!

Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin performs FALL OF THE TITANS tomorrow night, Sunday Sept. 23, 2018, at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Showtime: 7 p.m. Ancient cosmological lore and Gaia Theory explored on Celtic harp with commentary, and then an epic tale for adults with a full score on 12-string guitar.

An evening’s spoken-word immersion into how Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Hades and the Gods of Olympus came to be, and how they deceived their parents–the Titans–and took over the world.

Tickets: $13

 

FANTASTICAL GREEK MYTHOLOGY FOR ADULTS this Coming Sunday

Odds Bodkin brings his Celtic harp and 12-string guitar to perform FALL OF THE TITANS at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar Sunday, Sept. 23 at 7 pm. The story of Gaia, her Titan children, and their overthrow by their pea-sized grandchildren, the Gods of Olympus.

Tickets $13

 

FALL OF THE TITANS/Adult Storytelling in Nashua NH on Sept. 23rd

FALL OF THE TITANS/Adult Storytelling in Nashua NH on Sept. 23rd.

Cronus, her last born Titan, will do anything for power, and so when his mother Gaia asks him to castrate his father, he’s more than willing to do it, but only if he rules the cosmos in his father’s stead. Gaia is so deeply furious with her husband Ouranos that she urges Cronus on. After the deed is done, he hurls the family jewels into the sea, but they don’t sink. Instead, from the bloody package surges a pink froth that shoves a giant seashell up into the waves. When it comes to shore and opens, out steps a tiny, unbelievably beautiful little thing. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, the first of the Olympians. The eldest of them all.

The Titans have no idea what she is.

That’s a mistake.

And so their fall from power begins.

Fall of the Titans

An adult evening event with storyteller and musician Odds Bodkin. A full score on 12-string guitar accompanies the tale.

Sunday, Sept. 23rd at 7 pm at the Riverwalk Café and Music Bar, Nashua NH.

Tickets $13

Something From Nothing

Most folks are familiar with the Biblical account from the Book of Genesis. How God, the Prime Mover, made the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. It’s a cultural touchstone in our part of the world. Modern science doesn’t support it, but as an early origin story, it’s quite elegant.

1:21  “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

While the ancient Hebrews were erecting monotheism in the Middle East, across the Mediterranean to the northwest, the Greeks were still polytheists; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon et. al. personified forces of nature, but with human foibles. Nevertheless, in the Greek origin story, a Prime Mover did start it all.

They called her Gaia, the Earth.

According to Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer, before Gaia’s appearance, all was absolute darkness. Absolute stillness. Absolute quiet. The Universe essentially did not exist. Only the nothingness the Greeks called Chaos existed, or didn’t, depending on how you look at it. Then Gaia appeared in the Chaos. No stars yet. No sun or moon. No mountains or seas, either. Just a featureless, lifeless globe spinning in total darkness.

If you’d like to hear how this innocent start to existence ended up torn apart by warring Titans and Olympians in a tale of betrayal, castration, hidden babies and super-weapons, get your tickets today for FALL OF THE TITANS. You’ll learn how the Gods of Olympus were born.

An adult storytelling with characters and music on Celtic harp and 12-string guitar.

 

Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS

Sunday, September 23rd 2018 at 7 pm

Riverwalk Café and Music Bar, Nashua NH

 

We Should Learn to Grow Coffee in America

We Should Learn to Grow Coffee in America

We’ve learned to grow wine grapes in the U.S., so why not coffee? Only two states, Hawaii and California, grow coffee currently, but surely there are slopes in the Smokies where coffee bushes would thrive. And at moist Pacific Northwest elevations. After all, the tropics are moving north at a great clip and coffee-friendly biomes should be opening up fairly soon in the U.S.

With a little directed science, could new coffee growing regions could be established across North America? In areas distant enough from coffee leaf rust, a leaf-killing fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, to remain uninfected? The rust turns the leaves yellow and photosynthesis stops. Of course, the coffee “cherries” can’t grow, or the seeds inside. Especially those seeds dried and roasted to produce Arabica beans.

So how would soon-to-be American coffee growers explore that business? Well, they’d need some directed science. What temperatures and atmospheric pressures do coffee bushes and Robusta trees like? What sorts of mountain slope soils? Preferred PH? How much rain, and when? Do they like morning light from the east, or afternoon light from the west, or does it matter much to them as long as they get enough sun? And the big question: is there enough sun in the first place, so far north of the equator?

What about greenhouses?

If were a wealthy coffee drinker, I’d invest in that research, just to find out.

 

–Odds Bodkin

The Dancing Plant/No Time-Lapse Required

The Dancing Plant/No Time-Lapse Required

———

If we sped time a thousand-fold,

Then spied on silent, leafy plants

Who stand stock-still above their roots,

We’d soon grasp how wildly alive

Our green-clad cousins are. They strive

And twist for space, wiggle their shoots

And whip their leaves like flagellants.

As noons fly past, like stories told.

———

I wrote those lines for The Water Mage’s Daughter (epic poem on Amazon) many years ago, and last night, for the first time, I saw this video. For this plant, time doesn’t need to be sped up. Just play it music and it moves! A true wonder.

 

You can learn more tree lore in Loveland, CO this late May.

THE BIRD IN THE GOLDEN CAGE: A Storytelling Experiment from Odds Bodkin’s Workshop

THE BIRD IN THE GOLDEN CAGE: A Storytelling Experiment from Odds Bodkin’s Workshop.

The experiment begins with a vivid memory: the room where you sleep at night. As a very familiar place, most people carry detailed visuals of it, even if they don’t think about it often. The bedclothes, the closet and drawers, what’s outside the window on a summer day and how that sounds. Even how the screen smells if you press your nose against it.

All this suggested visualizing among participants takes place while listening to 12-string guitar music––not a song, more like colorful splashes of emotion. Combined with the story, the result is a musico-literary doorway to imagination. Imagining begins when a small sphere of blue light appears above the bed in your room. Eventually you journey into it, imagining yourself in a bird’s body in a golden cage, then seas, caves, clear fruits in various flavors and a multitude of other opportunities to discover your Five Sensory Imaginations.

For the storyteller, these are your paints. The more you practice, the more the door to them opens into a creative state. Telling your story is simply describing that state by using those paints.

Just one cognitive experiment among many in Odds Bodkin’s weekend workshop in Colorado this coming May, The Bird in the Golden Cage doesn’t talk about using the mind’s eye, it experientially draws you into it. It’s instinctual.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to tell stories in your own voice, here’s a chance to study with a master. No music required, or experience. Just a willingness to experiment with your mind. Based on Odds Bodkin’s graduate courses and workshops conducted worldwide.

On May 26-27, 2018 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO, Odds will be offering his weekend workshop in storytelling for beginners to experienced tellers. You’ll also learn the secrets of ancient tree lore. Space is limited, so plan your weekend now!

 

 

 

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.