Dog Scientists

Jonathan Bellman

In one of my favorite Far Side cartoons, reprinted here, Gary Larson’s caption reads: “Knowing how it could change the lives of canines everywhere, the dog scientists struggled diligently to understand the Doorknob Principle.” Many probably know this cartoon already and don’t need to look. This cartoon is much in my mind: I’m still wrestling with Jessica (sorry; I mean figuring out the piano solo from “Jessica,” so it’s fun and all but not what you’re thinking) and now I’m not alone. A research scientist in chemistry from Virginia is in on it, and we’re scrutinizing the transcription of the solo done by Elmo Peeler, who is obviously the Real Thing in terms of lineage. Our correspondence consists of things like “I play a lot more notes here” and “on the fifth eighth note of the fourth bar of line 13, there’s a double-stop E above the B.” The musical world, I am sure, hangs upon our every decision.
Again: us as dogs with floppy ears chewing over something obsessing them, getting paw-prints all over everything, but…success continues to elude. Somewhere, Chuck Leavell his own self must be asking, “What’s wrong with you people!?”

About jonathanbellman

Professor of Music History and Literature and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Author, *The _Style Hongrois_ in the Music of Western Europe* (Northeastern University Press, 1993), *A Short Guide to Writing About Music* (2e, Longman, 2008), *Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom* (Oxford University Press, 2010), Editor, *The Exotic in Western Music* (Northeastern University Press, 1998), author of bunches of articles and reviews and so on. Likes to play the piano, the mandolin, and even guitar sometimes. A. M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar at UNC, 2011.
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1 Response to Dog Scientists

  1. Galen says:

    That Far Side is a classic, but my favorite Dog/Door related Far Side the “Faster Fifi” one, which can be found here:
    Third down on the right.
    In an attempt to pretend that I have a musically relevant reason for bringing it up, I’ll claim that it’s symbolic of the struggle to finish the dissertation only to find that Academia won’t hire you, rendering the degree you spent so many years working on useless. “That’s very interesting that you wrote a 200 page book on enharmonic spellings in the late Beethoven string quartets, but here at McDonalds we’re more interested in your experience in customer service.”

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