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

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.

I Didn’t Think a Zoom Show Would Work, But It Did

I couldn’t see them as I sang “Meow meow meow meow!’ with my guitar humming, but Gavin could. All I could see was the camera, but behind it, on the studio bench, he was smiling at his computer. “You should have seen them, dad,” he said after the show. “All those little kids, standing and clapping and singing. They loved it.” Gavin Bodkin, in his infinite kindness, helps me with these shows.

“So it works,” I said.

“Yeah, it works.”

This was a live Zoom K-3 concert for a Montessori school in Boston, just last week. All the kids were at home in front of their computers or TVs, and I was in my studio in New Hampshire.  Usually I perform for kids live, of course, in large groups, but haven’t lately, for obvious reasons. Lots of performers have been missing that live audience energy, and I’m one of them. Storytelling is meant to engage the imagination, and that’s tough through a screen.  Still, if these little kids were singing along in real time and laughing, apparently it worked for them.

And so we evolve.

Check out available shows here.

 

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.

Story Time with Odds Bodkin on Facebook Live for Thursday, April 2: THE TALE OF THE KITTENS

Each day this week Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will tell a different music-filled story from his collection of tales for children.

The performances are at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

If you’re a mom or dad with kids at home during this scary time and you need a break, then sit the kids down for a story with wild characters, amazing sound effects and a live score on 12-string guitar.

On Thursday, April 2nd, at 12 noon EST, he’ll perform THE TALE OF THE KITTENS, a wondrous Italian fairy tale with a song to learn.

Follow Odds Bodkin at

https://www.facebook.com/oddsbodkin/

and join him on April 2 at 12 noon EST.

Please share with friends and family!

Visit Odds Bodkin’s Download Store for hours of listening!

 

Story Time with Odds Bodkin on Facebook Live for Wednesday, April 1st: The Elf of Springtime

Each day this week Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will tell a different music-filled story from his collection of tales for children.

The performances are at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

If you’re a mom or dad with kids at home during this scary time and you need a break, then sit the kids down for a half hour of fun characters, amazing sound effects and a live score Celtic harp.

On Wednesday April 1st at 12 noon EST, he’ll perform The Elf of Springtime, a heartwarming Swedish folktale told with Celtic harp.

Follow Odds Bodkin at

https://www.facebook.com/oddsbodkin/

and join him on April 1st at 12 noon EST for this live show!

Please share with friends and family!

 

Story Time with Odds Bodkin on Facebook Live for Tuesday, March 31st: Finn MacCool and the Big Man

Each day this week Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will tell a different music-filled story from his collection of tales for children.

The performances are at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

If you’re a mom or dad with kids at home during this scary time and you need a break, then sit the kids down for a half hour of wild characters, amazing sound effects and a live score on 12-string guitar.

On Tuesday March 31st, at 12 noon EST, he’ll perform Finn MacCool and the Big Man, a hilarious Irish folktale with a song to learn.

Follow Odds Bodkin at

https://www.facebook.com/oddsbodkin/

and join on March 31st at 12 noon EST.

Please share with friends and family!

Story Time with Odds Bodkin on Facebook Live Tomorrow at Noon

Each day this week at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time, Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will tell a different music-filled story from his collection of tales for young children.

If you’re a mom or dad with kids at home during this scary time and you need a break, then sit the kids down for a half hour of wild characters, amazing sound effects and a live score on 12-string guitar.

Tomorrow, Monday March 30th , at 12 noon EST, he’ll perform The Little Shepherd, a completely absorbing Italian Fairy Tale.

Follow Odds Bodkin on Facebook.

That’s tomorrow, Monday March 30th at 12 noon EST.

Please share with friends and family!

Shiva, Parvati, Yudisthira, Ganesha, Bhima, Arjuna and a Faithful Dog in Mahabharata Tales for Adults

Although the princes of two families grew up as demigods together, they have always competed for rulership of the city of Hastinapur. Each armed with fantastical powers, the Kurus and the Pandava brothers fight with magical mantras as much as with weapons. They’re not above trickery and murder. And it is their sweeping tale, arcing across history, bejeweled with hundreds of stories-within-stories, that is The Mahabharata.

When I first read it, I was stunned by the particle weapons and cluster bombs the characters wielded–this in a book created 2,500 years ago. I was also amazed by the immense floating cities. And by the Himalayan forests where emeralds were the leaves. And by the epic journeys encountering beings of all kinds. And by the Hindu gods especially, visiting humans like aunts and uncles on vacation from heaven.

It reminded me of Homer’s Iliad, and how the Greek gods whisked warriors away from death on the Trojan plain.

It’s a mythic storyteller’s dream, this great epic. And with my 12-string guitars and harp tuned to the world of Indian ragas, I’ll scratch The Mahabharata’s surface on Sunday, March 29th at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

If you’re of Indian descent, please do come. You’ll enjoy it. It is highly honorable and Indian folks in Chicago loved it.

This fourth Grendel’s Den winter season has been a series of sell-out shows, and India’s Ancients: Tales from the Mahabharata and Beyond is the performance that fans voted for, out of a field of four adult tellings, to be the final one.

So this is the one I’m preparing for.

Some of the finest, most wondrous stories I’ve ever come across.

 

INDIA’S ANCIENTS: TALES FROM THE MAHABHARATA AND BEYOND

ODDS BODKIN

MARCH 29, 2020 AT 5:30 PM

GRENDEL’S DEN, CAMBRIDGE MA

TICKETS $20

VIP TABLES AVAILABLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWO EVIL DWARVES: They Who Kill for the Blood of Wisdom/Viking Myths at Grendel’s Den with Odds Bodkin

“Fjalar.”

“Yes, Galar.”

“I miss the mead. I miss those sips. I didn’t understand what happened to me when I drank it, Fjalar.”

“I did. Wisdom happened to you, Galar. That’s why you didn’t unders…”

Suddenly their heavy oaken door blew in and landed flat on the floor. There stood an old man in a grey robe and wide hat, his one-eyed, scarred face half-obscured in the swirling stone dust. He carried a gnarled staff in his left hand.

“Dwarves…” said the stranger, who, although they did not know it, was Odin, who was about to kill them. He’d finally found the murderers of his best friend. “Welcome…”

A mortal fear swept the two dwarf brothers of Nidavellir.

 

 

THE MEAD OF POETRY is the second story in ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS, an adult storytelling with music at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA this coming Sunday, March 8th at 5:30 p.m.

Eat Viking food, drink mead, and then settle in for an evening of adult storytelling.

“a consummate storyteller” — The New York Times

“a preternatural ability to create characters with an array of simply inspired voices.”—digboston 2020

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

ODDS BODKIN

GRENDEL’S DEN, CAMBRIDGE MA

SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2020 AT 5:30 PM

TICKETS $20 IN ADVANCE, $25 AT THE DOOR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Sunday in Cambridge, MA: ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

As Loki hangs on while Thor thunders his chariot down Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge to earth, Loki hollers over the wind, “Thor, how fast can this chariot go?” The heavy vehicle is drawn by two He-Goats, Snarler and Tooth Grinder.

“I can cross ten leagues in an hour!” Thor proudly replies.

“Oh, then how many leagues can you cross in ten hours?”

Thor’s brows knit. He snorts, unable to think that far. “Don’t ask stupid questions, Loki!” Then a light enters Thor’s eyes. Ah, he has the answer. “Far enough!”


In Odds Bodkin’s telling of Thor’s Journey to Utgard, although Thor knows Loki is a liar and tells him so to his face, he still needs Loki’s cleverness. At least he thinks he does. Their insulting banter is constant as they make their way to Utgard, the capital city of the Frost Giants.

Thor is there to prove his strength. The outcome is altogether different.

This is one of two Viking myths, along with Viking lore, I’ll be offering Sunday March 8th at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

Come eat Viking food and drink mead from Grendel’s Den’s complimentary Odds Bodkin glass!

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

An Adult Storytelling with live music

Sunday, March 8th at 5:30 p.m.

Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, Cambridge MA

TICKETS: $20 in advance, $25 at the door

 

TAKE ODDS’ STORIES HOME WITH YOU.