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Ulysses: Episode 4: Calypso: Parasites Lost: 03/21/09
The fourth episode of Ulysses called "Calypso" begins the second part of the novel. This is "The Odyssey" section and all the titles reflect key points in Homer's epic. If you haven't read The Odyssey in a while (or ever), Calypso imprisoned Odysseus on her island trying to force him into becoming her immortal husband.
Calypso in Ulysses isn't so much about a man trapped on an island while trying to get home to his wife. It is though, the introduction of Leopold Bloom who like the "Eds" in Episode One just wants his breakfast but also has to contend with keeping his wife happy.
For Leopold Bloom, happiness is a visceral thing. He likes to eat organ meat and he spends most of this section either thinking about organs he's going to eat or how his own organs are fairing. Since the whole love and happiness is tied up neatly with kidneys and bowels, I have to nod my head to one of my favorite Futurama episodes "Parasites Lost."
In "Parasites Lost" Fry, like Bloom has three concerns: love (Leela), hunger (sketchy gas station egg salad) and his bowels (where space parasites have taken up residence). The episode draws its title from Milton's Paradise Lost which is written in the style of The Aeneid. The Aeneid is seen by some as the third epic in a three part trilogy which includes: The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid. Personally I see Virgil's Aeneid as bad fanfict that has been unfortunately associated with two much better works.
Now in "Calypso" the basic events are this: Bloom wakes up, talks to his cat, decides what he wants to have for breakfast, goes to the butcher to buy breakfast, comes back and makes it, reads the mail with his wife, eats breakfast and then takes a leisurely crap. In "Parasites Lost" Fry finishes a delivery, talks to his robot, eats a tainted egg salad sandwich, gets hurt pulling a stupid prank, successfully woos Leela and then has his body invaded by miniatures of his coworkers who want to rid him of the parasites that are making him smarter. They will set off a giant explosion right near his sphincter causing him to crap his pants in the process of getting rid of the parasites.
So far Ulysses has been a fun, silly and crude read. I've found similarities with Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, Kif and Capt. Brannigan (from Futurama), Georgia Nicholson (created by Louise Rennison) and now Fry from Futurama.
Next Saturday I'll discuss Episode Five: The Lotus Eaters. If you want to read along, Ulysses is available online at