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Ulysses: Episode 13: Nausicaä: Petting in the Park: 05/23/09
Before I jump into Episode 13, I feel like I should explain the method behind these posts. I do my reading in the middle of the week and before I begin, I go to the Wikipedia article that outlines the key plot points. It helps get my brain into gear. While I read I try to picture the connection between The Odyssey and Ulysses. I also keep notes of whatever films or television shows I'm reminded of as I'm reading. If I come up with more than one, I try to pick the one that has the most points of similarity with Ulysses.
The thirteenth episode of Ulysses called "Nausicaä." As it turns out much of the adventures of the Odyssey are recounted by Odysseus as he is recovering after having been shipwrecked on the beach where Princess Nausicaä was doing laundry with the servants. While his nakedness and the need to borrow some of the laundry could lead to an unfortunate scandal, nothing actually happens between Nausicaä and Odysseus.
In Ulysses the episode takes place at the beach and there is flirtation between a bored young woman named Gerty MacDowell and Bloom who is out there with a wet shirt. Gerty is there acting as a nanny to the other women she's with, watching their young children. She'd rather have a romantic tryst than be stuck with a couple of brats.
The combination of flirtation, innuendo and babies made me think of the "Petting in the Park" number from The Gold Diggers of 1933. The number, not to be confused with the cleaned up cartoon version (also by Warner Bros.) revels in the heavy petting that often time happens in public places. It's something to be enjoyed by lovers (young and old) and sometime to be watched.
While the lyrics, dancing and camera work all hint at sex, nothing is actually shown and nothing is explicitly spelled out. The number playfully builds sexual tension and takes time away from the growing love triangle of the main plot.
So like the young man and woman in "Petting in the Park", Gerty has needs. Unfortunately for her, she isn't equipped with a can opener to get at the prize she seeks (Bloom). She will have go on day-dreaming of love (or lust) to come rather than actually experiencing it.
I have five episodes left, meaning I'll be finished on June 27th (baring illness or some other disaster). For being 3/4 of the way through the list of episodes, I still have physically half the book to read. I find this fact a bit unnerving!
Below I have included "Petting in the Park" for you to watch. It's seven minute song and dance number with a catchy tune. I'd personally love to hear a punk cover of it.
Next Saturday I'll post my thoughts on Episode Fourteen: The Oxen of the Sun. If you want to read along, Ulysses is available online at Read Print.
"Petting in the Park" from Gold Diggers of 1933