Thanks

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
            -Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)

I just read this quote and thought immediately of Richard Armitage in “North and South.” Even though watching a video isn’t a personal encounter, I was deeply affected by his performance.

Sometimes you don’t notice when your fire has gone out. When you’re focused on the demands of daily life, the practical matter of putting one foot in front of the other, paying this bill, working at that job, dealing with the other thing that’s become a pebble in your shoe, it’s easy to forget the fierce joy that comes from looking up and suddenly seeing how much more life can be.

Like many others who count themselves his fans, I’m not normally given to fandom. The whole experience came as a shock to me–watching and re-watching the North and South DVD, then searching out more of his performances, and then (incredibly) writing fan-fiction featuring one of the characters he portrays.

Why him? I don’t know. Maybe somehow when he played John Thornton, he felt that same spark burst to life inside himself, and in some invisible, mystical way that fire made its way to the screen. And then he learned to make that happen again and again.

But whatever it was and is, I’m thankful for the creative fire he’s kindled in me. It’s been a wonderful, heart-gladdening experience so far.

My Favorite Men’s Voices

I’ve been enjoying male voices lately. It’s research, I swear—I’m only doing this because I am exploring how to write about the feeling their voices engender, with a view to using these in my writing.

It all started with Peter Firth. Someone said that his voice sounded “like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.” Beautiful image, but what does it mean? How does a voice sound like a picture? Still, the words stuck with me, and I just couldn’t let it go.

Too bad YouTube doesn’t have any clips of Peter reading poetry. I searched farther afield, and found this:

(“Yellowstone,” a stunning BBC nature documentary)

 and on Amazon.com, this:

 http://www.amazon.com/Tess-of-the-DUrbervilles/dp/B001FVJGSU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1333672659&sr=8-2

(You can play the sample from the opening of the audiobook)

 Now I can see what the “sun coming out” comment meant—Peter’s voice has a warm, golden quality. It’s like honey, sweet and full of light. And there’s just the faintest suggestion of a whisper; a silky, confidential tone like he’s telling this (whatever it is) just to you. And I love the confident, easy way he explains Yellowstone’s unique geology, and reads Tess of the D’Urbervilles as if he’d lived it himself (then again, he kind of did, as he played Angel Clare in Roman Polanski’s version of the story).

 I was so pleased by my discovery. Voices that had color and flavor and texture, not because of the words they spoke but because of their very sound!

 Another male voice I enjoy belongs to Richard Armitage. Often described as dark and chocolatey, his deep baritone is a favorite of many fans.

 Here he is reading Samuel Richardson’s “Clarissa”

 For those who want to go even deeper and darker, Alan Rickman’s voice is like espresso—really hot and not sweet at all, and makes your heart beat faster. Here he is, reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”

And here’s another beautiful voice—Benedict Cumberbatch, reading Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale.” He’s got a deep and sonorous tone, clear and bright as the midnight sky. He’s going to make a great Smaug, because there’s something cold and brilliant in his voice.

 So there you have it—men with seductive, sensual voices. They come in all flavors.