Nathaniel the Grublet

4 Nov

I found this VHS about five years ago from my favorite church thrift shop. The title captured my attention. What the heck is a Grublet!?


Nathaniel the Grublet tells the story of a young boy Grublet, and his brothers (?) who live on the outskirts of Agapeland. In the darkness of night, Grublets collect the trash and broken junk left by the Agapeland townsfolk, fix it up, and sell it for profit. It’s a type of symbiotic relationship between them and the village.


The musical album explains that Grublets are actually small humanoid creatures, like smurfs or dwarves. But the movie doesn’t explain this.

In the movie they look like a group of homeless guys, who collect junk and trash, and by doing so they conveniently keep the town a little cleaner, so the town let’s them do this. They are only allowed to do this at night.

Without this background information, I assumed that Agapeland pushed all the homeless men (where are the women?) to the outskirts of town. So is the movie commentary on how towns should deal with homelessness?  I was a bit confused.
Anyway, let me continue…

The leader of the Grublets (Tails) decides he rather steal good stuff, and not junk. Only Nathaniel disagrees. Majesty (aka God) basically tells Nathaniel he’s right. So, a newly anointed Nathaniel returns home, to find the townsfolk have tied up his brothers, I’m guessing to light them on fire. They realize Nathaniel has seen God, so they untie the brothers. The other Grublets promise to stop stealing. And things go back to normal. The End.


Nathaniel the Grublet was one of the first musical albums put out by Candle, Tony Salerno, and Agape Force in 1979. According to Wikipedia, it was sold door-to-door. Eight years later it was turned into this 30 minute live action “film”.

While looking for details on who made this thing, I ended up learning more about all of the Agapeland albums, their creators, and producers. I actually had their Music Machine album as a kid, and loved it, so it was interesting learning how large this whole Agapeland empire was. They had many kids albums, many of which were nominated for Dove and Grammy awards.

Some of the people starring in this movie are members of Candle (who wrote and sang many of the Agapeland music), or were involved in other ventures.

Some of the other people involved with this film were members of the group Candle, including Ron Krueger (Producer and screenplay), Frank Hernandez (Production Manager), Kathy Salerno (wife to Tony Salerno), Mark Pendergrass (“Tails”, Scenic Design).


Let’s dig into the movie a bit more, shall we.

Right away this movie confused the heck out of me, because the Grublets made no sense. First off, where did Nathaniel come from, and why is he so different? I know that the album explains that they aren’t human, but for all intents and purposes, in the movie, they ARE human.

So here we have a young boy, living with a bunch of grown men. What the heck?! Also, why does he have a normal name like Nathaniel, while the rest of them have silly names: Tails, Scrunge, Rounder, Belcher, and Nappin. It would be like having the 7 dwarves be Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey,… and Jessica.

On top of that, they cast a young woman to play Nathaniel’s part. Which again, if you didn’t realize he was supposed to be a little boy, is so alarming. I understand that working with kids, and all the employment rules you have to follow is a set back, so casting an adult is easier. But come on, it’s not like he’s supposed to be a teenager! And why a little person?! Let’s cast a young woman with dwarfism, it’s basically the same as a ten year old boy. Nope. It’s not. It was WTF all over the place.

To recap, the story is about a girl with dwarfism snatched by a group of homeless men, given a boy’s name, and forced to collect trash, which the town was totally cool with.

Nathaniel was played by Shandra (Bailey) Montague. It doesn’t look like she did any other acting after this. She’s being working as an ASL interpreter. She was about 20 years old when the movie was filmed.

For those who enjoy going down internet rabbit holes, I found a random mention of her in another girl’s journal, while they shared a room in the hospital. The internet never ceases to amaze me. Basically Shandra turned this girl on to Amy Grant, and she was crushin’ on Shandra’s older brother.

I liked the part where Nathaniel meets the forest Furries, and interrupts their furpile. This movie is crazy. Why does Smuggles the dog walk on all fours, but the forest animals don’t? And why is the rabbit so much smaller? Why doesn’t this 80’s Christian kid’s movie made on a shoestring budget make more logical sense?!

The Grublets

The music performances by the Grublets I thought were pretty good. The songs are catchy and sung well, and the choreography by Steve Yard isn’t half bad. Better than the Superkids, that’s for darn sure.

Tails  (Mike Pendergrass – then and now)

Mike D. Pendergrass not only played the leader of the Grublet group, but also did a lot of other work for various Agapeland albums. He illustrated a lot of the front album art, including this great one for Music Machine –

He also wrote “The String Song” which happens to be my favorite song from the Music Machine album. He is still doing illustrations and performing music for a living. He’s also a self-proclaimed conservative narcissist, so he’s got that going for him. He looks a bit like the late Anton LaVey, and despite their religious differences, I feel like they could easily share a beer.

Rounder (Jonathan Perry)
Scrunge (Scott Sargent)
Belcher (Duane Knight – then and now)

Nappin (Malinda Riley)


The biggest celebrity in this movie however is The Mayor, played by Buddy Miller. If you are not familiar with Buddy Miller, he is a singer-songwriter known for country and folk type music. He started his musical career in the early to mid 80’s, but didn’t really hit it big until his and his wife’s nomination for artist of the year in 2002.

So he was still a fresh faced 35 year old when he played the Mayor, dreaming of getting to where he is now. Him and his wife (Julie) also wrote and performed most of the songs from Music Machine II. I wasn’t able to find out how he got involved with Candle or the Agapeland producers. He moved to NYC in the 80’s, so it may have just been location, but I’d be curious if anyone knows.


I wasn’t expecting much from this video, but it actually had some interesting footage of the people behind the agapeland albums.
Here is an older photograph of Candle (~1980), in their early beginnings –

From left to right: Ane Warner Weber, Kathy Vetter Salerno, Mark D. Pendergrass, Tee Boswell Clemons, Frank Hernandez, Mike Milligan, Mary Gross, Georian Banov, Ron Krueger, Glenn Wilkinson

And I even managed to find some behind the scene pics from the making of Nathaniel the Grublet.


And for those of you with too much curiosity and 30 minutes to spare, here is the full movie –

McGee & Me and Recovery

23 Oct

Clips of Joe Dammann in “Not Alone”, talking about his recovery from drugs and alcohol.

Full video:

Live from… somewhere in Oklahoma? … it’s Fire by Nite!

22 Aug

I never saw Fire by Nite during it’s heyday, but I discovered it via my favorite local Christian-run thrift store. I picked up every glorious VHS they had.

Maybe you watched the show and know what the deal is with them. But I was totally new to it, and what a treat 😛
Fire by Nite was produced by Willie George Ministries, out of Tulsa Oklahoma.

Big Willie G

Big Willie G

Willie also brought us the fun ol’ time known as The Gospel Bill Show.


Clip Show

Fire by Nite brought so many Christian gems.. Here are a few I’ve uploaded:

Family First, Fire by Nite’s take on a Christian family sitcom. This is a blooper reel.


Here’s a premise! What if Rocky was actually called Chunky, and…and…um.. yeah not exactly sure why this is funny.

or Miami vice, if Miami was actually in Oklahoma


Musical Artists!

That’s right. Fire by Nite would always have a special musical guest, just like SNL. Michael W. Smith, Petra (twice), DC Talk, ect…

Then there is this guy, Kenny Marks, who is just ridiculous. I remixed him for your pleasure.

And how do you explain rap, to a white Canadian living in Oklahoma in the early 90’s? Watch Stephen Wiley do just that (sorry for the shitty dub):

DC Talk was my first introduction to Christian “rap”. I’m still in therapy.
Now let’s take a Bible Break!

That’s right, I was a teen in the 90’s. I hung out with kids like these Fire by Nite teens:


Where are they Now?

A lot of the..uh… actors?…  I couldn’t find through my research (Google). But I did find a couple.

Blaine Bartel, the youth pastor himself, ran headfirst into scandal two years ago. He admitted to an affair, and resigned as pastor of Northstar Church (in Texas) after it became public.

He has a couple of videos uploaded on Youtube, helping people with Church marketing tips. Which end with the message “Please hire me!!”. Well, maybe not in so many words, but it’s there.


John and Viccijo (“Vickie Joe”) Witty

These two are all OVER the internets. Facebook and facebook, twitter, and of course, YOU TUBE!!

Oh, I get it. This video wasn’t meant to be funny. They are really big on ending slavery in Oklahoma. Yeah, that’s right, apparently human trafficking is a huge problem in Oklahoma. Not sure that was a topic on Fire by Nite.. too bad. And on that light note!

When Canada and Oklahoma come together to put together a Christian clip show, I have to say, it has interesting consequences. Where are the current day Christian ripoffs? I have to assume they are out there somewhere, right?

Jesus had permanent God mode

14 Apr

Bible Adventures nintendo

Anyone remember playing this game?   I do!

I have vague memories of throwing animals, babies and  rocks, and addicting midi music.  Thanks to Elanarae for sharing his commentary on Bible Adventures via Youtube.

Enjoy the nostalgia everybody!

David & Goliath

Noah’s Ark

Baby Moses

I’m working on making my own religious themed game right now, but it’s still in the “pen on paper” stage. A type of Sim-church.

I’ve barely got any code written at all. But who knows, I may actually finish something.

Board Games

As a  kid, I also played the Pilgrim’s Progress board game:

Being a fan of fantasy books and movies, I really liked the Pilgrim’s Progress story.

Does anyone remember the movie Hoomania?  I thought it might have been a retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress, but apparently it followed the teachings of Proverbs. I wanted the game in that movie.


I also used to play a game called Denarii. I couldn’t find anything online about it.  It had Bible trivia so difficult that… well.. I doubt even Rod & Todd even knew most of the answers.

Anybody remember that Denarii game?  Or any other religious games?

David’s Rocks

27 Jan


David, God’s Champion (VHS)

Another Wiser Family video to add to my thrift store finds collection. This time the Wiser puppets delight us with the story of David.  We hear stories of how he was able to take on Lions and Giants, despite being a small guy. So many Bible stories read like old Roman mythologies.


Wiser family wants us all to know that God still talks to you today, every day! If you don’t hear God (and I hope they don’t mean audible voices), then you aren’t listening. This means kids will either believe they hear something, or they will make themselves hear something. Otherwise, they aren’t real Christians. That can lead to some really dangerous, or at the very least, confusing thinking.

God Will Talk to You


The David & Goliath story is fun. I found it funny that the Wiser family chose to tell the story from the point of view of David’s sling rocks. Haha, really?  They teach that no matter how small and seemingly pointless you are, you should let God use you. Well, that’s certainly a unique interpretation.

But when God doles out purpose filled lives,  you can’t all be hard blunt objects to bash a man’s brains in. ewwww.

God wants to Use You too!


The David and Jonathan story is one of the great love stories in the Bible. Naomi and Ruth would be the other one. Mary and Joseph to some extent, but not nearly as romantic. David and Jonathan obviously loved each other, and the Wiser video helps illuminate that.



To end their video, the Wiser Family Puppet Band gives us a lively rap. I can’t get enough of Christian rap. Whether it’s homophobic DC Talk,  side hugs, or born-again puppets, I’m all about it.

Set Us Free


Am I feeling some Sugarhill Gang influence in there?… Hotel! Motel! Holiday Inn!


A Little Wiser Family Trivia

The Wiser Family videos were written and directed by Peter Enns. Not the Peter Enns, who was recently suspended from Westminster, after causing some controversy.

But the Canadian Peter Enns.

He’s a Poet, and a media producer among other things. He even wrote President G.W. Bush to tell him about a dream he once had…

Writer/Producer Peter Enns says, “On June 18, 2002, I had a dream. In the dream, President G.W. Bush visited Tulsa, Oklahoma. Going down the receiving line, when I met the President, he said, “Peter, I like what you write”. In my dream, at the President’s invitation, I rode with him in his motorcade.
Sitting in the back of that big black limousine, I wanted to share a Good Word For America! with the President. I was embarrassed, when I forgot the lines, so I offered to send him some of the prints from my Good Word For America!  writings. The next day, as I was thinking about this most unusual dream, I decided to write a letter to the President. In the letter, I shared my dream and enclosed the prints I had promised to send to him.
Two months later, August 24, 2002 on a Saturday morning, I sensed an urgency to produce a Patriotic CD featuring my Good Word For America! That morning I wrote the title cut, The Majestic Eagle! Sunday afternoon, August 25, I was reminded of my earlier dream of the President. I prayed, “Lord if I have a letter and a photo from President George W. Bush & The First Lady in the mail tomorrow, I will produce the Majestic Eagle! CD.”
When I checked the mail on Monday, my heart skipped a beat!  I saw a large envelope from the White House, post marked Crawford Texas.  As I opened it, there was a letter from President Bush, dated August 16, 2002, with an autographed photo of the President and First Lady Laura Bush.
At this point, I felt I had no alternative. With studio musicians and back up vocalists I recorded my Majestic Eagle! CD, With a Good Word For America! The Majestic Eagle! CD is now available through radio and television interviews, bookstores, online and by calling a toll free number.

Now I’m not saying that this guy needs a reality check… but, okay maybe I am.  If a signed form letter and a picture from the White house is a message from the ultimate power of the Universe, well, color me surprised. Just my opinion of course. Some people hear God and see God every day, and think God plans for them to defeat Giants.

The other big player in the Wiser Family Videos is the animator. The animation sequences were done by Lock Wolverton. He is/was? an animator for Disney, and was even part of the Disney Institute Animation Events that ran from 1998-2003.  The brochure from the 1998 event said of Lock:

Lock is a graduate of Ringling school of art and design in Sarasota, FL and Famous Artists Schools. His experience as an independent animator spans more than eighteen years. Lock taught animation at the college level as an adjunct professor at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa OK. Lock has received numerous awards for animated productions, including eight regional Addy’s, three Telly Awards, the Golden Ring and the Silver Spur to name a few.

I’m actually a little surprised that the animation was done by somebody who worked for Disney. The animation isn’t horrible, but not particularly good either. Maybe the equipment he was working with wasn’t very sophisticated, or more likely, he wasn’t being paid much.

What was the Disney Institute Event about?  Here’s a video if you’re interested (sorry about the bad VHS quality):


“David, God’s Champion” was your typical Wiser Family Video. Now go out there and fight lions, fight giants, love your brother, and follow your dreams!

You can send the President your dreams at:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20501

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