Adult Storytelling with Music in Cambridge MA Tomorrow Night: Love Stories

Usually I tell mythic adventure stories during my trips down to Grendel’s Den in Cambridge. I hop in my car in New Hampshire and two hours later, I’m on busy Harvard Square, loading in the harp and guitars, greeting the crew for the evening and grabbing a coffee. Then it’s to the stage for tuning and a sound check. Before I know it, I’m performing tales of gods and monsters. Giants speak. Hammers fly. Dwarves chitter. Beasts roar.

It’s fun and the audience usually has a good time. They eat, they drink, and then they listen.

Happily, my Grendel’s Den show last month, Odin and Thor Battle the Frost Giants, was sold out, packed with nice people. Tables full of professorial-looking souls, others crowded with students and millennials, even a few young couples out on dates.

No kidding. Dinner and a story, I guess. I’m flattered at the thought.

Tomorrow night’s show, however, is one that those young, unmarried people out on that date together might really enjoy. Basically two long love stories, one from Japan and one from Arthurian England, this show takes place once a year for Valentine’s Day. Both tales have elements of magic, yes, but no monsters to speak of. No life or death battles. Just the wonder of male/female relationships in the face of the prime directive, and how things can go so very wrong if the trust isn’t there, and how things can go so very right when it is.

A few tickets remain.

WORLDS APART: Tales for Lovers

Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

Sunday, Feb. 10 at 5 pm

TICKETS $15

 

 

When a Goddess Loves a Nerd

Let’s say you’re an impoverished and lonely sail maker in ancient Japan. No woman will even look at you, much less fall in love with you, much less toil up the cliffs to your hovel overlooking the salt marsh to give it a try. Nope, you’re an involuntary celibate, doomed to a life of loneliness.

But then, on the wings of a storm, magic blows into your world. The wind slams it into your front door and knocks it unconscious, leaving it there. It’s a white crane. An injured, delicate bird.

Ah, but it’s not, of course. It’s a goddess, and you, the nerd who nurses it back to health, are about to become the luckiest man on earth…

Come hear The Crane Wife and another love story for Valentine’s Day this coming Sunday, Feb. 10 at 5 pm at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square. This one is scored with pentatonic Celtic harp. The other tale is scored with 12-string guitar.

WORLDS APART: TALES FOR LOVERS

Odds Bodkin

A Valentine’s Day Adult Storytelling

TICKETS: $15

 

Letter from an Educator, a Young Man in an American School

Mr. Bodkin,

Thank you so much for the consideration and time to send this to me. Like your impact on myself and many people who have heard your stories, this means more than you know.

This is my fifth year teaching The Odyssey in my curriculum, and at the end of class, when I play your stories, I can see the scenes flash across my students’ faces as they listen. Ironically, many of my students have had troubled pasts and special needs, but I rarely see them so at peace as when we hear your tales. They’ll work their tales (sic) off to ensure that we get a daily dose of storytelling at the end of each period.

The demand has been so high, that I’ve had to find a way to cram some passages from The Iliad into the curriculum after the break (a quality problem for an educator to have)…and I think we’ll just have to do a Beowulf unit with some of the Sophomores.

I’m humbled and thankful to have received this help from you during such a busy time. I know many of your fans will be eagerly awaiting the chance to read your book!

Merry Christmas, and thank you so much once again,

-Peter R. Best

THANATOS ON THE WEB, JUST FOR TEENS

Thanatos was the ancient Greek god of death. He seldom made an appearance in person. If you think about it, that makes sense. He only shows up when there’s no time left to tell a story about him.

As the son of Night and Darkness, his siblings were Old Age, Deception, Blame, Suffering, Doom, Strife, Retribution and Atropos, a goddess of death herself. She’s the root of our modern word “atrophy.”

As you can sense by his mythical brothers and sisters (the Greek gods were personifications of various human conditions) Thanatos normally has to do with death in old age. Old people die when their times come. That’s the way of nature.

But a new Digital Thanatos Ethic has appeared among teens. Witness the young Massachusetts girl who was just convicted of urging her depressed boyfriend to kill himself in his monoxide-filled truck. Witness the tens of thousands of other young girls who are cutting themselves, along with the millions of boys who worship all-powerful killer monsters they inhabit inside avatars, living a false heroism that has nothing to do with the real world around them.

“The other day I put up a self-harm picture,” she says. “I was alone and in a dark place. […] Of course, nobody would help, but posting it boosted my confidence a little; finding it buried in amongst all the other self-harm posts reminded me I’m not alone.” Full article in The Guardian.

Sites like these where depressed teens commiserate and urge each other to suicide and self-harm are appearing on the web like poisonous mushrooms. Depression blogs. Teen suicides on Facebook Live. Anorexia-promotion sites. This is a new species of digital connection so unnatural, so profoundly unhealthy, that parents and policymakers should take notice and shut these sites down, or at least get their kids away from them. And from cynical, exploitative TV shows that explore and justify them.

As for First Amendment considerations, media like this is the slow-moving equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Loneliness is one thing. But lonely kids who never meet each other in person gathering together online to compare ways to hurt themselves?

Even in an utterly secular world, that’s just not right. It’s a digital disease.

 

Opioid Addiction in The Odyssey

Meaninglessness is tough for everybody and lately, in the U.S., along with a lot of unemployment hopelessness, it’s led to the Opioid Crisis, as it’s called in the news. Folks from all social strata are now overdosing on heroin and fentanyl, ruining their own lives and lives around them to get that orgasmic rush for a little while.

 
It’s not a new human problem. In fact, in Homer’s Odyssey, set down 2,700 years ago in ancient Greece, the poppy and its effects are part of the tale. In The Odyssey the plant is called “lotus”, but that’s just a word-shift. This isn’t t the thousand-petaled pink lotus of Hindu lore, a symbol for the opening of consciousness. No, this is chewable heroin. At least it is on the Isle of the Lotus Eaters, a place full of drug addicts where Odysseus and his men land, early on in their journey.

 
Blown by a great storm into strange waters, they can smell the island’s alluring perfume from afar. Desperate for water and provisions, they land and Odysseus orders three sailors to explore the island and find provisions. They come upon a group of people, prone on their backs, eating flowers.

 
“Silly foolish man,” says one. “You don’t want provisions. You want lotus.”
“What’s lotus?” asks a sailor.
“Lotus is love. And lotus is bread. And lotus is sport. And lotus is wine,” replies the addict, “depending upon who you are when you eat it.”

 
Trying it once, the sailors are hooked and end up prone with all the others. It’s a humorous episode and they escape alive, but only after Odysseus finds them, realizes what the flowers are, and sails away, preferring to starve a little longer than be trapped there forever. He knows the power of poppies. How they rob a man of his will. Calling to the other fleet captains, he yells, “Nobody eats anything here! Do not breathe if you can help it!”

 
Their next adventure is in the cave of the cyclops, where, in order to survive, Odysseus needs all the will he can summon.

 
I’ll be telling the Lotus Eaters as part of The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast this Sunday April 2nd in Cambridge, MA at 8:00 p.m. with my 12-string guitar to add beauty. It’s a 90-minute show. Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square is the location. Fun evening. Hope you can make it.

 
Tickets are $20 here.

Odds Bodkin