Saturday, August 27, 2016

charlie chaplin eating a shoe شارلى شابلن بياكل جزمة

The review is in from Kirkus

 Kirkus Review: Gabriel's Daughters

Questions of faith and family haunt a young woman fleeing from her isolated polygamist community.
In this follow-up to 2007’s Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys, Jensen follows Zina Martin, the sister of the previous novel’s protagonist. Faced at age 16 with becoming a plural wife to an older man, Zina embarks on a doomed affair that leaves her alone and pregnant. Desperate, she abandons Gabriel’s Landing, her sheltered polygamist community in Utah. In the first of many fortunate plot points, Zina is picked up by an angelic African-American couple, who take her home to Chicago and treat her like a daughter. Zina slips easily into modern life: college degree, good job, an apartment of her own. But her past and the family she left behind still plague her. At one point, she tells a friend: “I don’t have one object, not one reminder of home. Not a picture or a letter or a quilt.” Zina especially wonders about her sister Louisa, who left Gabriel’s Landing to become a doctor. Zina’s quest to reunite with Louisa eventually connects the two books, and the sisters’ struggle to reconcile the worlds of secular society, conservative polygamy, and mainstream Mormonism dominates the book’s latter half. 
Jensen’s nuanced consideration of that struggle is the story’s greatest strength. She refrains from easy judgments, and her ability to present the Martin sisters’ genuine love for their home alongside its real pitfalls challenges readers to embrace the full complexity of polygamist communities. The rest of the plot, though, is less subtle and at times implausible. The ending seems predestined, and the difficult aspects of Zina’s story are rendered in an oddly unemotional fashion. For example, Zina undergoes a trauma shortly after arriving in Chicago, but the author quickly abandons that painful event and leaps months into the future. Jensen explains Zina’s sudden progress in bland, matter-of-fact prose: “Zina had been in Chicago for over a year. She had moved into an apartment with other girls her age, and learned to love the city and her job.” Secondary characters come and go with similarly little fanfare, often seeming more like plot devices than vibrant individuals. Such narrative distance and too-convenient plotting keep Zina and the other characters from becoming as compelling as the book’s broader themes.
A serviceable plot and characters bolstered by unusually sophisticated thinking about polygamy and its relationship to mainstream Mormonism.
Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-939967-19-0
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: July 13th, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Have you written YOUR obituary yet? Consider the alternatives....

 Here’s mine, more or less, and a pox on any of my family who consider altering it. My reasons for authoring it were quite reasonable: names and dates and facts will will be accurate,  (some of the novels are nonexistent at this writing) and there is no suggestion of sainthood.

Janet Kay Craner Jensen passed away (actually, she died) on ___________. She was born April 3, 1951, a surprise, to Darwin Kay and Lorene Ethel Miller Craner, in Berkeley, California. Her first recorded sentence was “Me do it.” She was raised in several western states and graduated from Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1969, where she won distinction as a state champion in debate. After being accepted and then rejected by Brigham Young University, she attended Utah State University on a Debate scholarship, where she affiliated with Mortar Board and earned a B.S. in Communicative Disorders.

She met her husband, Miles Peter Jensen, at USU, where both were members of the Intercollegiate Debate Team. After some debate, they agreed to marry, and on August 19, 1972, they were sealed in the Ogden Utah LDS Temple, after which they continued to debate for the next -------- years. They honeymooned in Chicago, where both earned graduate degrees from Northwestern University:  Miles in Law and Janet in Speech-Language Pathology.

Janet was employed as a Speech-Language Pathologist for twenty years, beginning at Augustana Nursery in Chicago, Ill.; following with Cache and Logan (Utah) School Districts; and part-time faculty at Utah State University’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education and USU’s Center for Persons With Disabilities.

(You may skip the next two paragraphs. In fact, this is highly recommended.)

Janet's second career, as a writer, was noted by poems and articles that appeared in Healing Ministry Journal, Everton’s Family History Magazine, ByLine, Meridian, The Magic of Stories, Parables of Our Times and Intermountain Health Care’s Heart to Heart newsletter. A personal essay, Baking Day, won second place in a national competition. She co-authored The Book Lover’s Cookbook, Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages that Feature Them (Wenger and Jensen, Ballantine, 2003). Publication of this book was greeted with great surprise by friends who swore she could not cook. She published her first novel, Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys (Cedar Fort, 2007). This was read with great surprise by her husband, who did not know she could write. She went on to publish more novels, Gabriel’s Daughters (Jolly Fish, 2015), Come, Girls, Come (and listen to my noise); Grace Will Bring Us Home, O’Connor’s Honor, Chrissie, The Best is Yet to Be, and Drs. Birt, Hogg and Dube′.

Janet also won numerous awards from the League of Utah Writers, including first place in short story, humorous poetry, and personal essay. Her novels received several national awards, including finalist in the Eric Hoffer Award for New Fiction, Foreword Magazine’s Indiefab contest, and Southwest Book Design and Production Award. 

She served as president of the Cache Valley Chapter of the League of Utah Writers and was a member of the LUW State Board for several years. Other professional affiliations included The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, Women Writing the West, and USU’s Old Main Society. She was a tutor with Bridgerland Literacy for ten years and was proud to be honored as Logan Library’s Top-Fines Patron of the Year.

Janet was known to play practical jokes and was devoted to her family. She enjoyed travel and theater and had a passion for reading. After accidentally sipping fruit-flavored champagne on a Caribbean cruise, (which inspired many family stories), she remained alcohol-free for the remainder of her life. She served in many capacities in the LDS Church including Cub Scout Leader, Relief Society Instructor, Primary President, and Newsletter Editor. At the time of her death she was a member of the Lundstrom Park (Logan East Stake) Third Ward.

She was preceded in death by her parents and one grandson, Christian Jensen.

She also outlived numerous mixed-breed dogs: Chevy, Malibu, Molly, and Lita, and one large white rabbit, Harvey.

She is survived by her husband, Miles, of Logan; her three sons, who provided inspiration for many humorous poems and essays: Kevin Scott Jensen (Evelyn), Draper, Utah; Benjamin Paul (BJ) and Marica Jensen, Jyvaskyla Finland; and Jeff Cameron Jensen, Emeryville, California; two sisters: Anne Cloward, Portland, Ore.; Ellen Croft, Riverton, Utah; five remarkable grandchildren, and Gus, a BorderBeagle who was her faithful companion and partner in crime.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donation to the WalMart Where Did I Park my Car Club. Serious donors may contribute to CAPSA (Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse), Cache Valley Humane Society and Bridgerland Literacy.

Graveside Services will be highlighted by a rendering of "Amazing Grace"  by the USU Pipe and Drum Corps, and will be conducted by Bishop Tom Auga who was quoted as remarking, “Who knew being Primary President could shorten the average woman’s life span? Besides, Sister Jensen was anything but average.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Good news from Foreword Indiefab Contest

JULY 12, 2016

GABRIEL’S DAUGHTERS has been named a Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards Silver winner.

PROVO, UTAH—Today, JOLLY FISH PRESS is pleased to announce GABRIEL’S DAUGHTERS has been recognized as a Silver winner in the 18th annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

Narrowed down from nearly 2,000 entries by a panel of librarians and booksellers, along with Foreword Reviews’ editorial staff, the winners in 66 categories are considered the year’s best books published by independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors. Foreword Reviews made the announcement in a live presentation at the American Library Association Annual Conference. A complete list of winners can be found at:

“Foreword’s INDIEFAB judges are the key to our winners selection process, and, in our minds, the most foolproof way to choose award-winning books,” said Victoria Sutherland, publisher of Foreword Reviews. “We work with a librarian and bookseller in each category to provide us with an insider’s perspective on what would do well on consumer and library shelves. Using industry professionals confirms the trade quality of a book.”

Jolly Fish Press hails GABRIEL’S DAUGHTERS as “an impressive work of literary fiction that accurately explores the struggles of being raised in a polygamous community. Jensen’s novel explores the unique strengths and weaknesses of the relationship in a polygamous family.”

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: We are Jolly Fish press, a publishing house based in Provo, Utah, which publishes trade fiction and select non-fiction books in the national and international market. We excel in exceptional cover design, worldwide online and brick-and-mortar distribution, expansive publicity and marketing campaigns, subsidiary rights representation, and most of all, our drive and ability to find exceptional, yet undiscovered authors, jumpstarting their careers with maximum exposure, sales, mentoring, and higher than industry average royalty rates."

About Foreword: Foreword Magazine, Inc is a media company featuring a Folio:-award-winning quarterly print magazine, Foreword Reviews, and a website devoted to independently published books. In the magazine, they feature reviews of the best 170 new titles from independent publishers, university presses, and noteworthy self-published authors. Their website features daily updates: reviews along with in-depth coverage and analysis of independent publishing from a team of more than 100 reviewers, journalists, and bloggers. The print magazine is available at most Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million newsstands or by subscription. You can also connect with them on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest.
They are headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan, USA.

Foreword Magazine

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What I learned on Old Main Hill

    Back in the day of the quarter (vs. semester) season, when finals were over in December, we did some sledding. The lack of sleds didn't pose a problem; a few cafeteria trays disappeared for an hour and then returned with stories to tell. 
     All flushed and breathless, I dropped by to see my favorite professor, whose office was in this wonderful historic building. He looked up from his desk and said in his quiet, Parkinson's-colored voice, "I have never had a student who's written with more insight than you. It was an honor to read this.” 
     Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is genuine praise. It won't hurt the budget at all. 

Introduction to Folklore 101, Austin E. Fife

Friday, September 18, 2015

The mother of all....muskrats

So...yesterday there was a great commotion in the back yard. Gus the BorderBeagle had cornered his quarry, which had taken refuge in a large plastic storm drain hose, about 4 feet long. I looked out to see Gus with his nose jammed into the hose, which he then held up in the air as he trotted around in the yard. If I hadn't been worried about the critter, which I assumed was a squirrel, I should have videotaped him. He looked like a circus performer.
Then he'd drop the hose and bark first at one end and then the other. I heard little squeaks and scratches from inside the hose. So I pulled Gus inside and waited for his prisoner to escape.
After about 20 minutes a little nose poked out and then pulled back in. After about half an hour, the whole thing emerged. It was either the mother of all squirrels or.....wait! It had a long scraggly tail! Gus had cornered a muskrat! It slowly made its way to what I hope was safety under the blue spruces. We've never had a muskrat in the yard in the 23 years we've lived in this home. I had to look it up on the internet to be sure. Poor Gus is very despondent that his hunt was interrupted. I had to let him lick the empty peanut butter jar for comfort.
And that was the most exciting event of my week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An honor for Gabriel's Daughters

Post Office Box 1285    Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504

 (505) 660-6357    Fax: (505) 983-0899

New Mexico Book Association is pleased to announce the
Santa Fe—06-27-2015--Here are the winning recipients of the 2015 Southwest Book Design and Production Awards, announced and presented on June 17 at the NMBA Gala and Membership Meeting. This is the sixth year that these coveted recognitions have been awarded to the publishers and creators of a few outstanding books produced during the past several months. NMBA is a not-for-profit organization and is pleased to offer this award program for New Mexico’s authors and publishers as well as to those in surrounding states.  SWBDA Coordinator James Mafchir and NMBA President Paula Lozar made the presentations.


Mysterious New Mexico:
Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment
University of New Mexico Press
Benjamin Radford, author

Spiritual Law: The Essence of Swedenborg’s Divine Providence
Rock Point Press, publisher
Joanna V. Hill, author


A Legacy in Arms:
American Firearm Manufacture, Design, and Artistry, 1800-1900
University of Oklahoma Press
Richard C. Rattenbury, author

Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth behind a World War II Fence
The University of Utah Press
Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey, author


A  Family of the Land: The Texas Photography of Guy Gillette
University of Oklahoma Press
Andy Wilkinson, author

The Memory of Stone: Meditations on the Canyons of the West
University of New Mexico Press
Erv Schroeder, author


Clovis Caches: Recent Discoveries & New Research
University of New Mexico Press
Bruce B. Huckell and J. David Kilby, authors

New Mexican Folk Music / Cancionero del Folklor Nuevomexicano
University of New Mexico Press
Cipriano Frederico Vigil, author


Medicine from the Kitchen
Author House, LLC, Publisher
Jessie Emerson, RN, author

Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing
Rio Grande Books, Publisher
Slim Randles, author


Chasing Dichos through Chimayo
University of New Mexico Press
Don J. Usner, author

The Power of the Hebrew Alphabet
Gaon Books, Publisher
Gloria Abella Ballen, author


Ears of Corn:  Listen
3: A Taos Press, Publisher
Max Early, author

Poems from the Fields of Dharma
Blue Spruce Books, Publisher
Thomas Reidy, author


How Chile Came to New Mexico
Rio Grande Books, Publisher
Rudolfo Anaya, author

Gator, Gator, Second Grader
Five Star Publications, Inc.
Conrad J. Storad, author

Gabriel’s Daughters
Jolly Fish Press, LLC, Publisher
Janet Kay Jensen, author

Spiritual Law: The Essence of Swedenborg’s Divine Providence
Rock Point Press, Publisher
Joanna V. Hill, author


The Wastewater Gardener:
Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time
Synergetic Press, Publisher
Mark Nelson, author

The King and Queen of Comezón
University of Oklahoma Press
Denise Chavez, author

The Roque Lobato House, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Schenck Southwest Publishing
Chris Wilson and Oliver Horn, authors


Behind The Lines
Milbrown Press, Publisher
Jeffrey B. Miller, author


Southwest Art Defined: An Illustrated Guide
Rio Nuevo Publishers
Margaret Moore Booker, author

If you are interested in any of these books or would like to interview any of the winners, we would be happy to arrange it.

Please contact: Karen Villanueva 239-877-4248, email:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: Healing Stone by Brock Booher

                        One boy's gift may be more than his town is ready for. 

Book Review: Healing Stone by Brock Booher

First, the cover: It is eye-catching and catches the spirit of the story. It has a dark background with beautiful contrast of the golden elements of stalks of wheat,  and the shading on the lettering is very effective. 

Stone Molony, age 17, is already a most unusual young man---insightful, mature, and wise beyond his years--- when he discovers he has the gift of healing, something so powerful and life-changing that a lesser character wouldn’t be able to cope with it. “The day I discovered my gift, I saved Rusty’s life, and then he saved mine,” Stone relates. Stunned that he was able to touch his gravely injured dog and restore his limbs and his health, he hardly has time to process this miracle before Rusty takes a snake bite intended for Stone and dies. 

Word of Stone’s gift spreads rapidly in his small rural town and a series of healings takes place. Within his own family, though, is a grave need that Stone cannot meet, and it is devastating. His older brother, Leck, suffered serious injuries in Korea and has come home embittered and hopeless. His parents don’t understand why Stone cannot heal his own brother, and Stone lives with their grief and disapproval.  But Stone has learned something very important about his gift: it is dependent on the faith of the sufferer.

From the publisher: “Set in 1955 Kentucky, Healing Stone explores the effects of racism and corruption hidden in a small town and the redemptive power of hope discovered in one unique boy.”

The plot is original and unpredictable, the characters well-drawn, and the language simply musical. The colloquialisms are vivid and often laugh-out-loud funny, as well as spot-on.

With hints of Huck Finn and Elmer Gantry, Brock Booher's Healing Stone is a compelling and uplifting read.

Brock Booher grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky, the fourth of ten children, where he learned to work hard, use his imagination, and believe in himself. He left the farm to pursue the friendly skies as a pilot, and currently flies for a major US carrier. A dedicated husband and father of six children, he began writing out of sheer arrogance, but the writing craft quickly humbled him. During that process, he discovered that he enjoyed writing because it is an endeavor that can never quite be mastered. He still gladly struggles everyday to improve his writing and storytelling skills

You can buy the book here: here

  • File Size: 758 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc (April 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled 

  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled

Find  Brock on facebook:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Body, Mind and Spirit: Gabriel's Daughters wins prestigious design award

June 17, 2015
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Gabriel's Daughters won first place honors in the "Body, Mind and Spirit" category of the prestigious Southwest Book Design and Production Award. 
Entries came from five southwestern states. 
The awards were presented at the annual New Mexico Book Association Gala in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Congratulations to the team at Jolly Fish Press! 

The Southwest Book Design and Production Award 
is sponsored by

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Acquired Taste and a Song about a Sandwich

In honor of this summer's upcoming opera season, a column on the subject seems timely.

I’m told that opera is an acquired taste. I’ve sampled a number of operas by now and for the most part, my taste buds haven’t matured. In fact, I’ve concluded that I am a Broadway Musical person. I truly love musicals. But I do like classical music, too, very much, and there are many splendid themes I recognize from great operatic works. I guess the “wasted” piano and violin lessons and music appreciation classes in childhood did pay off in adulthood, in the form of simple enjoyment of the music, and in some absolutely memorable moments I will always cherish.

I suspect that with me, appreciating opera has something to do with attention span and bladder capacity. I can even quote an authority on this subject. Alfred Hitchcock said, "The length of the film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." I just wasn’t meant to sit through long, long afternoons of opera.

The sad moment of truth,the knowledge that I probably wouldn't develop a passionate love for opera, manifested itself during a performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar several years ago. Before that I had tried, truly tried to understand opera. Besides, how could we go wrong with Handel, we thought when we purchased our tickets? How, indeed? We learned that with Handel's Julius Caesar we could go wrong. Very, very wrong.

The orchestration was gorgeous, as we expected from Handel, featuring the musical instruments of the period, but when it came to the plot and vocals and artists, oh, my! We spent a very long afternoon listening to a series of very accomplished singers perform a very long series of vocal gymnastics, one after another, while others stood perfectly still on the stage, holding torches and palm fronds. We knew they had wonderful voices too, these scenery-holders, as we'd heard them sing in another production, but for most of Julius Caesar they were relegated to assistant sword-carriers, which was a waste of talent, we thought. The production lasted for about seven hours. Husband will insist it was eight hours, but he is prone to exaggeration.

To add to our great confusion, the part of the great general, Julius Caesar, was sung by a true male soprano. The male soprano was authentic, too, in Handel’s day, we have since read, but this particular voice and the concept of a man singing in the the female soprano's territory were simply jarring to our uneducated eyes and ears.

The first portrayal of Julius Caesar I recall seeing on film was by Richard Burton, and Mr. Burton was no soprano. He didn’t even really sing (as we learned when he appeared on Broadway in Camelot), but who really cared? He was, after all Richard Burton, with that beautiful, rich Welsh-bred voice and articulate delivery, and he was undoubtedly and thoroughly masculine in presence. I have since read a biography or two mentioning him, and there was evidently no question about his masculinity, according to the many women who kissed and told. And kissed again.

On the other hand, the gender of Mr. Handel’s operatic Julius Caesar onstage that afternoon wasn’t all that obvious until we finally confirmed the presence of facial hair. When he opened his mouth and those first elevated notes poured out, well, as Husband protested, no self-respecting soldier would have followed that high C into battle, and I was inclined to agree. I’m sorry, I just didn’t buy it, and neither did Cleopatra, evidently; they didn’t come to a good end, and it took them two hours too long to reach that very unhappy conclusion.

I suppose that sometimes I can’t quite lose myself in the moment, as you must in opera, because I’m an author and editor, always striving for concise, clean language. It's important to be able to suspend belief in order to appreciate the opera, I think, for it is meant to be bigger than life. There are no small emotions, no small moments or gestures or steps, and surely no small notes, even, in opera. It’s all enormous in scope, to be acted and danced and sung and played out before our bedazzled senses.

Our local opera company is marvelous and deserving of all the many accolades it receives. The historic theater in which they perform is a jewel, and visiting performers often get misty-eyed when they experience its acoustics for the first time. We usually attend several of the opera productions each summer, though we choose the light/comic/operettas/Broadway musicals over the more ponderous Tales of Hoffman types.

One summer’s lighter offerings included the musical The Most Happy Fella. I’d heard of it many times but had never seen it, and I was looking forward to the evening. After seeing it, I'd have to say that The Most Happy Fella has a charming plot with a raggedly-stitched patchwork quilt of mismatched songs, including the haunting “Joey, Joey,” the fingersnapping showtune “Standin’ on the Corner, Watchin’ All the Girls Go By,” and a few others that feel more pure in the operatic sense, as if they’d wandered in from the wrong production and decided to stay anyway.

Some songs were in performed English, some were in Italian; the older sister from the Old Country did not have an accent, but her younger brother, the Most Happy Fella, well-a, he sure did have-a an accent. Nobody explained that one to my satisfaction. In fact, nobody even attempted to, that I recall.

The point in the musical that I’m finally reaching here, the moment when time stopped in the theater and I lost myself in the opera, comes now. It was a song performed by a delicious trio of waiters. I don’t think they even had names, because, after all, though they were happy fellas, they weren’t the Happy Fella, even though their voices were richer and more powerful than The Happy Fella. Their names, as listed in the program, were simply Waiters One, Two, and Three. They wore white aprons tied just below their armpits, and held various articles of food in their hands, and from their energetic pantomimes even I could tell that the whole village was preparing for the joyful wedding feast to be held that night, and these three waiters were right at the heart of it.

Allow me quite a bit of literary license as I describe the scene:

The tables are heavy with food — every kind of food imaginable, including meat, breads, cheeses, fruits, vegetables,multi-storied pastries taller than I am, and, since the musical takes place in wine country, of course there is plenty of alcohol, which in the end causes its usual mischief, but I won’t give away that plot twist. Anyway, now comes the glorious song from the waiters, at least my version of it, and since it’s in Italian, I'm pretty safe offering my translation to most readers who don't speak Italian.

Verse One:

Waiter One: (holds up a loaf of bread) The hoagie!
Waiter Two: The hoagie!
Waiter Three: The hoagie!
Waiter One: The hoagie!
Waiter Two: The hoagie!
Waiter Three: The hoagie!
Waiters One, Two and Three: The hoagie, oh, the hoagie, yes the hoagie, oh, the hoagie . . . . . . . . (instrumental interlude) . . . ta-da!

Verse Two:

Waiter One: (holds up the mustard, but we can’t see a brand name) The mustard!
Waiter Two: The mustard!
Waiter Three: The mustard!
Waiter One: The mustard!
Waiter Two: The mustard!
Waiter Three: The mustard!
Waiters One, Two, and Three: The mustard, oh, the mustard, yes, the mustard, oh the mustard . . . . . . . (instrumental interlude) . . . ta-da!

This goes on for about ten splendid minutes as the three prepare what any clueless opera-goer can see is a sandwich, and we’re all getting very, very hungry, but we don’t notice the hunger pangs, because . . .

Waiters One, Two, and Three could be singing about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens or the Dow Jones or Obamacare. It simply doesn’t matter. The actual assembling of the sandwich is a nice visual, of course, but those three marvelous voices, and the way they blend - - - even better than the mayo they praise so richly in Verse Three - - - well, if we could have specified an encore number (and we did applaud Waiters One, Two and Three very enthusiastically after that number, and again at the end, when they took their bows), it would have been that one. I would even have happily bought another high-priced ticket just to hear them sing what I called “The Sandwich Song” one more time.

I may not be a connoisseur of opera, and I don’t even like mustard, but for the chance to hear those three happy white - aproned waiters sing the praises of a garden-variety sandwich, well, I’d toss a bouquet of fresh parsley on the stage just to show my appreciation. The Sandwich Song was simply one of those exquisite show-stopping numbers you don’t ever want to end.

Several years later, those three rich, soaring voices still ring in my mind whenever I pass a Subway sandwich shop.

When art moves us, as this song did, it stays in our minds and gently colors everything else that’s there, for our lasting benefit. I felt that overwhelming joy when I stood before a Van Gogh painting for the first time in my life, and I felt it that afternoon when those waiters sang the praise of onions, among other ingredients; and perhaps that's why I had tears in my eyes, even all the way back in row M.

Ann Patchett, a lyrical writer, offers this beautiful paragraph in Bel Canto, a book I am now devouring for the second time just for the pleasure of it. Listen to her description of a group of people who have just heard the most famous soprano of their day perform for them, in a small intimate party setting:

Some of them had loved her for years. They had every recording she had ever made. They kept a notebook and wrote down every place they had seen her, listing the music, the names of the cast, the conductor. There were others there that night who had not heard her name, who would have said, if asked, that opera was a collection of nonsensical cat screechings, that they would much rather pass three hours in a dentist’s chair. These were the ones who wept openly now, the ones who had been so mistaken.

For me, that’s another one of those wonderful moments I'll remember, and it will gently color everything else that’s there—simply reading that graceful passage from a truly gifted writer. And that's how I felt when Waiters One, Two and Three graced us with their splendid voices. 

I’m sure Ms. Patchett would have loved my singing waiters, too, and their lusty Sandwich Song.

originally posted June 2008