I'm back in action with a snazzy, quiet new box and a monitor that takes up a tiny fraction of the space my last one occupied. For the moment, I'm having some fun giving Windows XP the test-run, but it's only a matter of time before it gets bogged down by the muck and mire that floats around this wonderful internet of ours, so I'll be making the switch back to Ubuntu in the next day or so. (The Bro has given the latest Ubuntu incarnation a good run, and reports that the graphical system delivered a spectacular, and thoroughly unwelcome, crash -- a misadventure that would make a good update on the blog, I'd think (hint, hint).)
While off-line, I cleared up some of my reading projects, and added a few new titles to the pile. On a whim, I picked up this extended interview with U2's Bono -- a perverse whim, I'll admit: it's been a long time since I bothered reading any of his magazine interviews, and an even longer time since I've listened to his music. I enjoyed the book, though. He's a man of no small intelligence and nearly unassailable charm, and it's a treat to hear his reflections on music, the (mostly) fun life of a rock star, and the continent of Africa.
He talks a lot about Africa. Michka Assayas is close to Bono's ideal interviewer: a French agnostic who gently but persistently probes the artist on ambiguities and challenges him on potential contradictions, particularly when it comes to Africa. The two have a respect and appreciation for each other, and it makes this format work. The book arrived at a particularly good time for me, as I try to wrap my head around some of the concepts my wife juggles in her work with African agencies (her recommended reading is Out Of Poverty - And Into Something More Comfortable by journalist John Stackhouse).
It doesn't make me reach for the old U2 CDs, though, and I'm starting to wonder what that's all about. Near as I can tell, it's a voice issue, and Bono's falls hard on my ear. Similarly, Neil Young and Van Morrison. Elvis Costello. Ron Sexsmith. And now I can't help but get nervous. I mean, Ron Sexsmith -- how is this possible?! It wasn't so long ago when I thought Other Songs was about as perfect a CD as you could get. At this rate I'll be reduced to playing Dinah Jams 24/7. There are worse fates, I suppose.