Closer. Sharper. Louder.

Before the pandemic, I regaled audiences in person. Seated behind two microphones, I told them my tales through a sound system so people in the back row could hear. People in the front row? How far away were they? If I were onstage, I’d say about six to ten feet.

But now, for better or worse, I’m closer, sharper, and louder, too, because if my audience wants to turn up the volume, that’s easy to do at home.

Yes, for the time being I’m on Zoom for my adult performances. The camera is a mere two feet away. Hoary and curmudgeonish as I am, it still seems to work. As professor Joseph Walsh put it after a recent Zoom show for college kids:

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 and watch his fingers dance across his guitar and harp.

Up until March of last year, I told my winter series of adult tales at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. We had lots of fun doing it, and not wanting to lose that fun completely, Kari Kuelzer, the owner, and I decided to move our shows to Zoom. She’ll be online to introduce me and help me juggle audience questions afterwards.

For next Sunday she chose ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS, which I’ve performed at her club many times. You are invited. Tickets are $25. I hope you join us for some wild and woolly performance art.

ODDS BODKIN

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

Sunday, January 10th at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Zoom

Tickets: $25

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: The Augean Stables

Eurystheus, King of Mycenae, Hercules’ weak cousin, has been granted control over him by Zeus and the Fates. Hercules must perform labors–anything his cousin asks. Slavery was common in ancient Greece where Greek slaves from conquered towns worked the fields and mines, and cleaned up animal dung. And so when Eurystheus tells Hercules to go clean the filthy stables of King Augeas of Elis, the hero is enraged, but he has no choice.

Upon seeing the years of cow dung piled up to the rafters beneath acres of stables, Hercules’ heart sinks. He must do it in one day. He calculates it will take the shoulders of ten thousand men to do the job. He’s fast, but not that fast. It seems impossible.

And yet he does it.

 

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Join Master Storyteller Odds Bodkin as he tells this episode and learn how Hercules triumphs in his sixth labor using his wit and strength.

Sunday, Oct. 18th at 5 pm EST on Zoom. The app is free to download if you don’t already have it. With HD sound and video, HERCULES IN HELL is a tour de force of storytelling, scored with powerful, exciting music on 12-string guitar throughout.

An utterly different, magical way to spend a Sunday evening.

TICKETS are $15 per screen.

This is an adult storytelling. Children 12 and up are welcome.

 

This performance is sponsored by Grendel’s Den of Cambridge, MA. A legendary watering hole. Visit them for great food and atmosphere.

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: Blood of the Hydra

In Odds Bodkin’s upcoming adult telling of HERCULES IN HELL on Zoom, Hercules makes a fateful error that haunts him for years, and in the end, is the tragic cause of his death.

During his second labor, Blood of the Hydra, the King of Mycenae sends Hercules to slay the Hydra, a dragon with nine heads. It has taken up residence in the swamps of Lake Lerna and has killed everything for miles around it. Birds. Fish. Insects. Everything.

“Wasn’t one of its heads immortal?” asks Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, fascinated by Hercules’ story.

“Yes,” he replies, “but worse than that, its blood was pure poison. One drop, the slightest spatter on your skin, and you die.”

With his young nephew Iolus’ help, Hercules succeeds in slaying the Hydra, but afterwards dips his arrows in the pools of its blood. From then on, just a scratch from one of his arrowheads means instant death.

“And you came to regret that?” asks Hades.

Hercules sighs. “I thought it was wise at the time.”

 

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Join Odds Bodkin via ZOOM on Sunday, Oct 18 at 5 pm EST for his epic telling of the life story of Hercules. The camera is up close and the sound and video are HD, so you can watch the instrumental work on 12-string guitar as a master storyteller enacts his characters.

A solid and entertaining lesson in epic Greek mythology, one you’ll never forget, this is an adult storytelling not recommended for children under 12.

ZOOM downloads are free.

HERCULES IN HELL

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 at 5 pm on Zoom

Tickets: $15

 

This virtual event is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: Persephone, the Unhappy Wife of Hades

Persephone, Queen of the Dead, despises her husband Hades. Trapped in the Underworld with him, she longs for news of the living. And so when Hercules, freshly dead, drops down before her, she won’t let him proceed to his afterlife on Mt. Olympus until Hercules tells both her and her husband his life story.

This is Odds Bodkin’s dramatic framing for his epic tale, HERCULES IN HELL. It’s coming up soon on Zoom.

Hercules hates telling his story, because his life tallies just as many foul murders as glorious acts, but he tells it anyway, just to be able to leave. And so, in a huge, deep voice, Odds Bodkin takes on the role of Hercules in the first person:

“My mother, Alcmene, loved my mortal father Amphitryon, but she would not have him in her bed until he’d avenged the deaths of her brothers, so while he was away, Zeus came to mother, disguised as Amphitryon, and fathered me. So who is my father? Zeus, yes. But I’ve never met him. Some father he is. No, it was Amphitryon who raised me…”

Odds won the prestigious Golden Headset Award for Best Audio when he released his epic Hercules recording into the storytelling world. Now you can watch him tell it, live and up close, as he Zooms the show from New Hampshire.

Sunday, Oct. 18th at 5 pm EST.

Teens love this story, as well as adults. Odds has even spellbound incarcerated men with this marvel of storytelling. It’s about a man who cannot control his temper, a bad thing when you’re the strongest man in the world.

Grab a $15 ticket and mark the date!

The Zoom concert is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. Visit them. The food is great. So are the people.

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.

GRIEF COUNSELING AND GREEK MYTHS

“I’ve been working with using myths in grief counseling,” she said, “and I was wondering if you know of any Greek myths that might help.”

She was young, seated next to her husband or perhaps boyfriend on a couch in their home. I didn’t know her. She could be anywhere on Earth. I’d just finished telling FALL OF THE TITANS, and she was one of the folks who’d bought a Zoom ticket. This was the Q&A, done live, a new feature.

I scrambled around in my mind and recalled facts from Greek mythology I’d used to explain how the ancient Greeks viewed death. The greatest of warriors went to the Elysian Fields while demigods like Hercules went to Mount Olympus, but these cases were exceedingly rare.

“The Greeks didn’t really have a Hell,” I began. “You know, a place of punishment if you’d been bad in life. Or a heaven, for that matter. Most everybody, kings, queens, all the way down to goatherds–good or bad–went to the Underworld at death. Here, they simply became “shades”, ghosts who remembered their lives but who lost their voices.”

Then I flashed on a scene from THE ODYSSEY, where Odysseus, visiting the Land of the Dead at Circe’s direction, tells his men to slaughter a lamb and fill a hole in the ground with its blood. From the mists emerge shades of famous people he’s known, and he speaks with his dead friend Achilles, but then to Odysseus’s shock and dismay, his mother, Anticlea, whom he did not know was dead, emerges and drinks the lamb’s blood. What she tells him breaks his heart.

It’s almost like a séance.

I didn’t go into all that, but instead flashed on a story from HERCULES I did share with the young woman, where Queen Alcestis, a woman Hercules would have married if she’d not already been married, had taken her own life so that her husband Admetus could live on. Hercules storms down to the Underworld and frightens Hades so badly he lets Alcestis return to life.

“Oh,” I added, “you also might look into how Orpheus harped his way in and out of the Underworld.” It didn’t end well for Orpheus, but he did prove the power of music and love, along with the importance of following directions.

What do I think in these pestilential times? These tales are ancient and universal. Maybe it’s possible to find solace in them. I don’t know. I hope so.

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

 

 

 

CRONUS, EATER OF HIS CHILDREN: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS Zoom Concert on Sunday July 19th

Let’s say you’re not just any king,

No, you are King of the Universe.

Let’s also say that you’re paranoid and will never let go of your power. Add in that you, the talentless last son in a big talented family of Titans, have become King by cutting off your king father’s privates and throwing them into the sea. No kidding. That’s what Cronus does in FALL OF THE TITANS.

In the ancient ways of power, if a king loses his virility, he can no longer be king.

To make matters worse, your mother Gaia has given you the slicing weapon to attack Ouranos, her husband and your father. She is angry with him. Henceforward, your siblings loathe you. You are a pariah.

However, you are now Cronus, King of the Titans, and they have no power over you other than to chirp at the margins.

According to the myths, Titans lived before the gods of Olympus, and as giant creators, they basically built the Earth and its ecosystems. It was only after eons that the Gods of Olympus took the Earth from them by force of arms, luck and a few hired monsters. They did this in a ten-year war called the Titanomachy.

TICKETS

But why did this war happen within a single family? How could they have been so angry at each other that parents battled their own children?

Cronus is the main reason. Gaia tells him that she’s heard of a prophecy that one of his children will overthrow him as King, but the prophecy doesn’t say which child. Shortly after, Cronus becomes a father when his wife, Rhea, gives birth to tiny Hestia, a goddess the size of a pea.

Cronus wonders, “Is this the child who shall overthrow me?” To his wife’s horror, he promptly gulps down the newborn, imprisoning her in his stomach. The next newborn, Demeter, lands in Cronus’s stomach a year later. Baby Hera, little Hades and lastly, infant Poseidon follow in due course.

Gaia does not approve of Cronus’s actions, but she loves all her children equally, including this wayward son. Always, she insists upon loving her children equally. And so she lets the evil of swallowing the children go on. It’s part of her downfall.

Desperate to keep at least one of her babies to hold and love, daughter Rhea begs Gaia to help her keep this next baby’s location a secret from Cronus. Gaia agrees and the newborn boy is cleverly hidden on the isle of Crete.

The little boy grows up hating his father Cronus for imprisoning his brothers and sisters. One night, he drugs Cronus and his father vomits forth the Olympians, now fully grown.

“Follow me,” cries Zeus, no longer a baby, “and we will take this world from the Titans!”

Thus the Gods of Olympus begin to tear Earth away from the old nature spirits who built it.

 

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Now, as a storyteller who tells old myths for adult audiences, I love this old zinger and will bring it to life from my ZOOM studio Sunday, July 19 at 7 pm EST. It’s a full evening’s entertainment, with a score on 12-string guitar and character voices, as usual.

In a first, however, joining me after the show will be Kari Kuelzer of Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, taking questions from the audience, which I’ll answer. I’ve told FALL OF THE TITANS live at her place a couple of times before and so we’ll see how this Zoom experiment goes.

Hope to have you in the audience!

–Odds Bodkin

 

FALL OF THE TITANS: An Adult Storytelling on Zoom

Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time

Tickets: $15 for your meeting invitation and password

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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!

 

 

An Odds Bodkin Concert Anywhere on Earth

As a one-man show, Master Storyteller Odds Bodkin has never needed fancy costumes and backup dancers, since they’d only get in the way of audience imagination. Because he’s a character actor, he doesn’t need fellow thespians to bring a story to life. Backup musicians aren’t necessary either; he plays his own music live. And since he doesn’t wear makeup, he looks the same as always. Dressed in black. Beard. Bushy eyebrows.

That’s why in his live Zoom concerts, the only difference is that everyone has a front row seat.

Got a group of bored adults from your company working from home? Book an evening performance of BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE or ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS.

Got school kids scattered to their homes? Book a GOLDEN RULE: WORLD STORIES ABOUT EMPATHY or FAIRY FOLKS AND OLD OAKS performance for up to 1, 000 of them. It will be live, just for them, some time in the morning or afternoon.

Recently DigBoston wrote about Odds’ “preternatural ability to create characters with an array of simply inspired voices.”

He also offers HEARTPOUNDERS: DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL shows, as if these times weren’t dark enough.

To learn how to create a large group storytelling event, all while social distancing, inquire here.

 

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