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RG the Cat Guy ... behind the music

Marsel & Barney are one of those obscure musical acts who would remain in obscurity were it not for the ability of social media platforms to turn almost anyone into an overnight sensation.

Marsel is an acoustic guitarist whose tastes run toward jazz. Barney is a pianist heavily dependent on a staccato style of playing and an aloof, huffy, indignant on-screen demeanor.

They live, and produce videos to their musical compositions that have been seen by millions, out of their home in Russia.

Oh, and one last thing Barney is a cat.

An orange tabby, to be precise, whose talent isn’t simply the stray hitting of a single key followed by a quick departure from view.

In fact, Barney — whose full name, according to his Facebook page, is Sir Barney of the House of Kotariens, Free-Born, Valar Murmulis, Valar Koshairis, Called Meow-Meow the First, Lord of 7 Trays, Liberator of Cats and Son of the Dragon — seems to be the frontman of this combo, with Marsel riffing off his partner’s cues.

It was ever thus: We invite cats into our homes, only to find ourselves living in theirs.

We once had a pair of musical cats of our own though named for characters in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and not, like the Lord of 7 Trays, some offshoot of “Game of Thrones.”

Kira would run her paws down the slats of the heating vent as though playing the harp.

At first, we though she was simply asking for the warmth to merge from its usual spot. But she began playing the slats 12 months out of the year, and it was easier (for us, at least) to decide that she just liked the sound the obsession made.

Eventually, her younger sister Dax decidedly that percussion accompaniment was need and started banging on anything nearby — boxes, tables, doors — to add depth and subtext to the piece.

Since, by this point, we were living in their home, we simply decided to enjoy this gift of music — lest they decreed that we should be banished to sleeping in the car as Kira had so banished our Paul Simon CDs.

Turns out, our fears might have been unfounded. An Oregon State study from 2019 B.C-19 determined that — contrary to their stereotyped depiction as aloof, huffy, indignant creatures — cats, in the words of Sally Field, like us they really like us.

Which is a good thing, since another recent study of cats (and their human underlings) has found that nearly 60% of cat “owners” not only prefer working from home during the pandemic they believe their cats enjoy them being around the house more.

In ascribing to this belief, we are merely attributing human characteristics to our feline overlords — living within the confines of a natural conundrum posited by the 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

“When I play with my cat,” de Montaigne asked, “how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?”

It’s best not to think too deeply about that; it’ll only give you a headache.

And, as we enter the final week of this godforsaken year, one last malady of any sort would be one too many thank you very much.

Our current Head of the Household has no desire to become a musician, or even a video star.

She runs from sight whenever a camera is brought out and, if trapped, she merely turns to show us the back of her front before the picture can be snapped.

She is indifferent to music of any sort — which meant that Paul Simon could be heard without our having to go for a drive — and seems fascinated only briefly by the images flashing across the various screens in the house.

On Christmas Day, we partook in that newish holiday tradition — the family Zoom call — during which, after numerous attempts to get all those involved to unmute their screens, led to pets being held up for one and all to see.

They were, it should be noted, all dogs.

A request was made to have us bring Her Highness into camera range, a fate worse than death that she sniffed out, for she disappeared not to be seen again until the call ended.

We did, however, show a framed photo of the cat none of them has ever seen and, when challenged as to the cat’s actual existence, I admired to the picture being the one that came inside the frame.

De Montaigne would argue that we learn from our cats as much as they learn from us, while Sally Field would remind us that cats are like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get.

Rather than think too deeply on that, however, I believe it’s time for another number from Marsel & Sir Barney of the House of Kotariens, Free-Born, Valar Murmulis, Valar Koshairis, Called Meow-Meow the First, Lord of 7 Trays, Liberator of Cats and Son of the Dragon.

I wonder if they take requests: 2020 has put me in the mood for “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

RG the Cat Guy can be reached at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com

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