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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MEAD GLASS WITH EPIC POETRY

When thoughts and hands grow liberal,

And single toasts turn several

-Odds Bodkin

If you can believe it, my quote about drinking alcohol is now emblazoned on specialty mead glasses created by Grendel’s Den and given away at my adult storytelling performances. I’m thrilled. Arriving along with flights of mead to the VIP tables, the two lines of iambic tetrameter are from The Water Mage’s Daughter, my 13,000-line epic poem about magic. Read it. It’s fun.

Meanwhile, your next opportunity to drink mead, eat Viking food and take home a glass is on March 8, 2020 at a performance of ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Grab yours soon. Beowulf and The Odyssey were sell-out shows, I’m delighted to report.

 

No Man Did It! No Man Killed Me!

So howls Polyphemus the Cyclops to the other cyclopses outside his stone door. He’s been blinded by a giant spear in his one eye as he slept, a spear carved from a tree by Odysseus and his men. Now thrashing in agony in the darkness, the monster has attracted the other monsters with his howls.

“I’m blinded! I am killed!” he screams.

“Who did this to you, Polyphemus?” calls one outside.

“No Man did it! No Man killed me!”

“Well, if it is no man, then it is the work of the gods. Good bye!”

Polyphemus has been cruelly fooled, doubly so. For as Odysseus has poured brandy into the monster’s bowl and fooled him into drunkenness, and the monster has asked him his name, Odysseus has replied, “My name is No Man,” fooling him again.


Come hear this and other adventures from Odds Bodkin’s adult storytelling, THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST, this coming Sunday in Cambridge, MA.

“a consummate storyteller” — The New York Times

“a modern-day Orpheus” —  Billboard

 

Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square

Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for dinner.

Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door

THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST Adult Storytelling at Grendel’s Den

It’s when instead of attacking them immediately, the cyclops rolls the giant stone to block the cave door, that Odysseus senses doom. It just hasn’t happened yet, but will. As the monster tears two men apart in a shower of blood and devours them, Odysseus realizes that this is no peaceful shepherd as he assumed. No, this one-eyed giant who stands as tall as thirteen men is a cannibal. And soon they will all be in its belly. Unless they escape somehow. But the giant stone weights many tons, and there’s no other way out.

For one of the most famous scenes from Homer’s The Odyssey, Odds Bodkin takes on the giant voice and deadly gestures of Polyphemus the Cyclops. Vocal effects explode in the scene: popping heads and crunching bones, roaring flames and a giant hissing eyeball–while his 12-string guitar burns with rapid notes–all to render a vivid and yes, horrifying imaginative experience.

It’s really fun.

Of this performance Professor James Tatum of the Dartmouth Department of Classics wrote, “Odds Bodkin’s performance is the closest thing we have to a Homeric experience.”

His first show of the season, Beowulf, was sold out, so get your Odyssey tickets today.

Come feast and drink like a Greek, then settle in for the show. VIP ticket packages available for great seating and special foods.

 

The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast

February 9, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Grendel’s Den Restaurant, Cambridge MA

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS Adult Storytelling in NH this Friday

Odds Bodkin will perform two long Viking myths with live music Friday, January 17, 2020 at 7 pm at Zinger’s in Milford, NH.  The Gap Mountain Trio will open for the storyteller.

This follows his sold-out Beowulf show last week at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

Bodkin’s show also features a fascinating scholarly exploration of Norse lore.

Come eat, drink and then settle in for an evening of adventure, humor and mythic wonder!

An adult performance; not recommended for children.

 

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

Friday, Jan.17 at 7 pm

Zinger’s in Milford, NH

Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the door.