Our Detective

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's going to be a merry christmas and a happy new year

The next Hannibal Lecter book, which chronicles the life of Lecter as a young man, should be out by Christmas, the NYT said. Yay to Thomas Harris! But the most exciting piece of news is the fact that Gaspard Ulliel, aka the Guy-Opposite-Audrey-Tautou-in-A-Very-Long-Engagement, will be playing the young Hannibal. I just hope that the movie won't suck, as it is produced by blockbuster maker Dino De Laurentis. The last Hannibal movie was botched, I think. David Mamet was writing the screenplay, then pulled out, so that was a loss. I am always ready to give David Mamet my affections.

see it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/books/19harr.html

Speaking of books, I have joined the merry band of Iain banks fans. TMH (the man himself, as Mr. Banks is called in the forum at www.iainbanks.net) will have a book out early next year. Another yay!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My Kind of Party

September only means one thing: the Manila International Book Fair. Two weeks ago, I made my pointless pilgrimage. Pointless, because I always don’t have enough money to buy what I need and what I want. Every year is an exercise is masochism and I never learn. The guy who manned the Emerald, the magazine retailer, was amiable. I pointed to the Foreign Affairs journal. It’s P865, the big guy said. But we can give you a 20% discount. No, I said. I need back issues. (They’re usually cheaper. I have two Foreign Affairs journal that cost me P100 each, yay!) Big Guy shook his head, they don’t have back issues. Turns out, they are prohibited to sell the back issues of Foreign Affairs. So I had to ask: what do you do with the unsold magazines? We rip the pages out and sell them to junk shops, Big Guy replied sheepishly. If he wasn’t so apologetic, I would have slapped him. Until now, that conversation depresses me. Those poor magazines, with no one to love them.

The best acquisition of the day? The long-sought, much-needed Economics for Dummies. Now I know what the GDP means.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The way to healthy lungs and other theories

The greatest thing in this Makati gig is the walking. Once, I walked from Greenbelt to Axa Bldg in Buendia, which took me 20 minutes, approximately. The sun was shining, there was a small breeze, I was listening to The Life Pursuit ( It’s now obvious that it will top my soundtracks-of-the year list, although Camera Obscura’s Let’s Get Out of this Country is a close second.)

I don’t even mind the pollution. It’s annoying, but I have a theory that walking plus pollution equals stronger lungs. Proof: when I went to Kule office last week, I didn’t pause to catch my breath all the way to the fourth floor. My breathing was actually normal. And I was carrying a big bag. Top that!

Lab, that weird monkey, was here two weeks ago. Over dinner, he asked me about the migraines. I told him it was nothing; they just changed patterns. But he had another theory: the headaches might be signals from aliens. It’s my mothership way of contacting me. “Hala, Maybe you’re an alien. Maybe you’re not really my cousin after all,” he said.

But would an alien pay for your dinner and make you mix cds full of indiepop goodness? I KNOW I’m the best cousin ever. =)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Man Who Outsells Harry Potter

Detective fiction/police procedurals can be gruesome but, I’ve been thinking that they’re quite hopeful. Unlike science fiction, which seeks to familiarize the reader, detective fiction seeks order. Should I go back to the Comparative Literature fold, I’ll do a monograph on the narrative and themes of detective fiction, Henning Mankell in particular. (For those who don’t know it, I’ve been devouring Scandinavian detective fiction for some months now, spurred by an article in The Guardian I read last year).

Speaking of Mankell – he’s a Swede who works as a theater director in South Africa – I’m halfway through his Kurt Wallander novel called The Man Who Smiled.

Wallander, Mankell’s protagonist is an inspector from a small town patterned after Agatha Christie small towns who always finds himself in the middle of international intrigue worthy of a John Le Carre. He’s can be a cross between the detective in the American harboiled tradition and Inspector Wexford of Ruth Rendell: he’s tortured, forlorn and lovelorn. He hates guns and does a lot of internal monologue. He’s in love with a woman who lives in Riga, Latvia who, in turn, is still in love with her dead husband. Wallander doesn’t speak much English, he’s got an inferiority complex and he used to take antidepressants for a year. (The reason for his depression can be read in The White Lioness. I don't want to explain it - it's a spoiler.) He is bitterly divorced. He has a paunch.

From what the Internet has told me, Mankell is a bestseller in Europe, even outselling Harry Potter in some parts of the continent. Yay!

By the way, while writing this entry, I was listening to The Heavy Blinkers’ The Night and I Are Still So Young album. They have songs that remind me of The Carpenters, but they are not as cheesy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

If You're Feeling Sinister - Again

Inspired by my recent trips to the doctor and for lack of better things to do on a balmy night, I made my dream MRI soundtrack last Sunday. The list probably needs editing, but so what.

1. Honey Cone – Sittin’ On A Time Bomb (Waitin’ for the Hurt to Come)
2. Mates of State – Goods (All in Your Head)
3. The Perishers – Pills
4. Ivy – Clear My Head
5. Red Sleeping Beauty – Sick and Tired
6. Dusty Springfield – I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
7. Television Personalities – Sick Again
8. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Heart Problems
9. The Starlight Mints – What’s Inside of Me?
10. Holly Golightly – Tell Me Now So I Know
11. The High Llamas – Let’s Have Another Look
12. Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
13. The Love Letter Band – Doctors Never Love You
14. Emiliana Torrini – Lifesaver
15. The Wannadies – Nothing Wrong

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If You're Feeling Sinister, or Dancing While Lying Still

The doctor asked me if I was scared during the MRI. I said no. It was actually a happy affair, even though I was half-asleep the whole time. Here's what happened:

Before I went in, the MRI technician - I think his name's Rodney - told me that I had to lie still for at least 25 minutes or the pictures of my brain would be blurred. Fine. But I had to ask: Can I use my own music? (I had to risk being perceived as a difficult, diva patient. Otherwise, I would be immersed in the MRI suite's collection of cheesy 1980s lovesongs and 1990s revivals. Think David Pomeranz. And Southborder.) No problem, Rodney said. Yay! Had I known that this was possible, I would have made my own MRI theater soundtrack, which would include The Love Letter Band's Doctors Never Love You and 60's Motown group Honey Cone's Sittin' on a Time Bomb (Waitin' for the Hurt to Come.) Both appropriate songs, indeed. At such short notice, I chose The Life Pursuit. It's bouncy, it's brilliant, it's longer than 25 minutes, I know the lyrics, I won't get bored. I just had to control the urge to dance. Midway through Funny Little Frog, my song of the year, so far, the MRI guys turned off the machine. It's over and done with. I didn't ask Rodney and the other guy if they liked Belle and Sebastian's music or what they thought of it. I was too shy and sleepy. I just hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

The MRI was clean, by the way. Nothing sinister in there, except my brain.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I Swear to God

In celebration of my blogname, I'm copying here GK Chesterton's oath administered to members of the British Detection Club. Chesterton was a British writer and a devout Catholic. So devout was he that he created Father Brown, the parish priest who doubles as a detective. Awwww.

"Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?"