Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Radio Television Bidadari Chamber Orchestra

17 March
Edna: Congratulations on your debut concert with us, Mr. Park. We are indeed blessed to have you, such an internationally-renowned composer, here as our musical director at Radio Television Bidadari. There's one small problem, though.
Mr. Park: What would it be?
Edna: I understand that there is all these... newfangled ideas. Pieces with no melody, pieces with no rhyme and reason. I think the general audience would be more appreciative without hearing those pieces... such as... such as...
Mr. Park: I understand our delivery of Metastasis might be causing a stir, but that could be partly due to how Xenakis composed it, you see.
Edna: Yes, that piece. Someone phoned in to comment that this piece was "weird". I guess it would have to go.
Mr. Park: And that is supposed to mean "bad"?
Edna: Of course! It's such a terrible thing to be weird! And such a terrible thing if someone else suggests that you could be weird. So terrible, terrible!
Mr. Park: What about the Requiem, sung by my extremely talented vocalists?
Edna: Weird too! It gave me nightmares! Who's this guy Ligeti who did this? Never play any of his pieces again.

1 April
Mr. Park: It sure is hot in the studio today, Edna. Maybe you should get someone to get the air-conditioning fixed.
Edna: Do you think I don't know what you're getting at, Mr. Park?
Mr. Park: What do you mean?
Edna: Look at the date for today, Mr. Park.
Mr. Park: But the aircon is really down!
Edna: I meant the piece that aired this morning, Mr. Park. The 1817 Overture. I hope that was a joke.
Mr. Park: Edna, 1817 is a famous and beloved composition by the great Tchaikovsky. It can't go wrong.
Edna: Well, I heard cannon noises in there. Something could go very wrong, Park! What have you been using our studio space for? Someone could have been hurt by this innovation of yours.
Mr. Park: This was a misundertanding, Edna. 1817 has always had cannons for accompaniment. Besides, I had the cannons edited into the soundtrack in post-production, so it's perfectly safe.
Edna: But it's all so harsh, Mr. Park... I understand that Tchaikovsky might be intending to simulate some kind of war somewhere, but music is meant to be sweet, pleasant, orderly... the general audience doesn't want to hear about violence and strife, they want good, wholesome and inoffensive music. Aren't we all here to provide for the needs of the people? Maybe you'll do good just getting down from your ivory tower.

10 May
Mr. Park: I just auditioned the most promising young pianist today.
Edna: Agreed. Jeanne Choo put up a great show in front of everyone in the panel this morning.
Mr. Park: I was referring to the guy, Justin Thomas.
Edna: Justin Thomas? No, he didn't make the cut.
Mr. Park: Why? Please call him back! I would like to have him in the team.
Edna: Justin didn't put up a good show, to be honest. He wasn't... serious enough in his playing. Maybe a tad too... animated as well. It's hard to explain. We didn't feel too good about him. Maybe he's just too much of a show-off.
Mr. Park: Maybe you rejected him because he was enjoying himself too much!
Edna: I dunno. It doesn't seem proper. Good music is always serious.
Mr. Park: In that respect, well, I hope Jeanne is serious enough.
Edna: Yep, Jeanne's in, in fact.

12 May
Mr. Park: Jeanne Choo doesn't seem all that good, Edna. It's not just her playing; she refused to start working with me on my composition today. And would you know the reason to that? She says that it's in A flat major; it's too hard.
Edna: These kids are the most brilliant young musicians in the country. It is conceivable that some of them may still have a lot to improve on. Be patient with them, alright?
Mr. Park: You must admit that it is rather more difficult to fix an attitude problem.
Edna: You must admit that A flat major is really quite hard; it's four flats, after all. You only think it's easy because you have the standards already. Please think about guiding them to this standard, rather than judging them.
Mr. Park: That problem is not really hard to work around, is it? It's quite basic-
Edna: It's not hard, Mr. Park... Just get rid of all the accidentals.
Mr. Park: No, that's hardly what I meant!
Edna: I hate accidentals. They're annoying.
Mr. Park: Excluding pieces with accidentals would mean excluding a whole lot of perfectly good compositions, Edna. Jeanne wouldn't even need the black keys on the piano anymore. She could just substitute it with a toy piano instead, with notes from Do to Do, don't you agree?
Edna: No, not a toy piano! That's just not respectable.

27 May
Mr. Park: We just had our first public concert in a long while. I think we did a good job, despite all the constraints that I was obliged to work with: All the pieces that I composed or adapted had to be in C major, for one. And they also had to be all in 4/4 time, and be at a speed of sixty crotchets per minutes or less. I managed to make it interesting, and both our audience and our musicians enjoyed the show quite a lot. Even Jeanne Choo didn't kick up a fuss like she usually did, because she was on sick leave.
Edna: I am appalled that despite all our rules and regulations, you still managed to screw up our public concert, Mr. Park. It's the worst one I've ever seen executed.
Mr. Park: Excuse me, I stand by my own positive reviews of my own concert, if you would please bear with my hubris for the moment.
Edna: What an arrogant thing to say, Mr. Park.
Mr. Park: Maybe you didn't like my composition with the theremin, Edna?
Edna: Theremins don't make music, they just make wailing noises. And I wouldn't stand for such frivolities as a musical saw. Some things are just meant for carpentry, and carpentry only. And the third piece in the programme, the one called Arirang... That's just... too pentatonic, too folksy, too "old". The general audience don't like that.
Mr. Park: That's a very famous Korean ballad, Edna, it's traditional.
Edna: Korea's just so far away, so exotic... I just feel something closer to our consciousness would work better. Who cares about Korea?
Mr. Park: ... Well, the audience did seem to enjoy our music.
Edna: It's all just a vocal minority of people, right? A vocal minority.
Mr. Park: That doesn't seem to fit the standing ovation at the end, Edna.
Edna: We planted claques in the audience to lead the audience to cheer for you. It's to save face, alright? I knew the audience wouldn't do so otherwise. If you don't mind, I have to leave soon.

1 June
Mr. Park: Edna, I'm a little worried about the our orchestra members. I have been trying to build a rapport with them from the day I started working at Radio Television Bidadari, and they have been treating me well in return... although, I must say, they hide their thoughts from me, and avoid talking to me about some issues at work. I am afraid that this might put a stumbling block in getting on with business.
Edna: Our musicians don't enjoy working with your ideas, Mr. Park, I've been trying to tell you that.
Mr. Park: I would never know just by talking to them. If they didn't like working on my ideas, they could and should have talked it out with me, rather than defer to me at every turn.
Edna: They defer to you because they're afraid of how you would react to a negative comment, Mr. Park. It could also be by the fact that you're a foreigner. The musicians could take some time to get used to you in that respect.
Mr. Park: In that case, I must thank you for all the feedback that you have given me, Edna.
Edna: You're welcome.
Mr. Park: By the way, is it normal that whenever I try to talk to Jeanne Choo, she screams and ducks behind a chair?
Edna: We try to be as tactful as possible in this country, Mr. Park.

8 June
Edna: Mr. Park, I believe that you aired a rendition of Ligeti's Hundred Metronomes this afternoon. Please explain yourself.
Mr. Park: My musicians are not coming for practices anymore, Edna. There's no one left to play anything but these. And, to my defense, I only used thirty metronomes, because there's that many of them that I found in our store when I looked.
Edna: You're fired.
Mr. Park: I figured that would happen. I shall be hightailing it out of the country by this evening. No hard feelings.
Edna: Have a safe trip.
Mr. Park: Thank you. How are you planning to run the show without me? I'm just curious.
Eddie: We're thinking to just shut down this programme, Mr. Park. Who knows whether it was all worth it to start with? Maybe no one listens to us anyway.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


"Hey! Which one of you owns this place?"
"It's me! I am the owner of this restaurant."
"You called us an hour ago? There was a troublemaker, no?"
"Yes, a few. They roughed me up a bit about the vodka. They're gone now."
"Oh, they are? What now, eh?"
"Everything is fine now. Thank you for your response, but we don't need your services anymore. You can leave now."
"Leave? Leave? Why should we? You called us, and we're here. Why should we leave?"

With that, the burly head Chechen leaned over the bar-top, his face right up against, almost pressing, the restaurant manager's.

"Listen, you spineless Azeri dipshit," he lowed menacingly. "You knew what you're in for when you bought protection from us. You know our stock, you know that unlike you salt-mining fishies, we mountain people have our heads as hard as our cocks. We never give up, do you understand? We'll chase those thugs all the way down to Petrozavodsk; as long as we are called, we must make them -- we must make someone fall."

Turning around, he bellowed to the clientele, "Now, who else has a problem with the vodka?" And the crowd, at least those who had not had time to discreetly steal away into the night, stared mutely at the Chechens in reply, frozen with terror. The head thug took that as a resounding Yes, and his clique set upon the customers with knives, baseball bats, and ravenous glee.