The Fanciful Truth Trilogy
By Will Cunningham & Phil Joel
I was in my mid-forties when I collaborated with two friends on a whimsical musical trilogy that told the gospel in a mischievous and understated way.
From the start, I had a bass line in my mind, but I'm not a bass player. So, I hummed the tune to Phil Joel, (former bassist for the band, Newsboys), and he thumped it out without any problem. Horns are courtesy of The Supertones, and the drums and keyboards were added later by studio musicians who were friends of Phil.
Austin Sailsbury is one of the most creative people to ever roam this planet. When our two minds get together, we not only think outside the box... we turn the box inside-out. "Nathan Katz" and "Henry and the Horrible Thing" became realities because of many late-night conversations with Austin. He's also responsible for the simple, (yet beautiful), artwork that reflects bits and pieces of the story.
PART 1 | The Nine Lives of Nathan Katz
If you listen to this song with ears to hear, you'll recognize themes of the afterlife, heaven, etc. So, listen up. Cats have nine lives. Thus, if anyone should be worried about the afterlife, it shouldn't be cats, right? But when a cat starts worrying about death and what comes next, a person should probably do the same.
We had a ridiculously good time bringing Nathan and his entourage to life. I mean, think about it... the thought of an arrogant cat losing one of his lives in a sledding accident is super funny. But the story becomes hilarious when his well-meaning friends try to revive him, and wind up killing him seven more times––leaving him with only one life, like the rest of us.
PART 2 | Henry and the Horrible Thing
This story picks up where The Nine Lives of Nathan Katz leaves off. If, as Nathan suggests, the after life is a possibility worth pondering, then Henry suggests there is a path one can take to get to that after life.
It also suggests you and I can be certain we are on that path. Henry's mother is the most obscure character in the story––and yet, she is the God-figure who gives Henry his deliciously wonderful immunity to the local monster, (i.e. the "Horrible Thing,"played brilliantly by Phil Joel)... and, ultimately, his immunity to death itself. Listen closely for the phrase Henry's mother speaks to him every night after his bath time. In it are the seeds of redemption and eternal salvation.
For fear of spoiling the story, I won't tell you anymore. Suffice it to say that Phil's daughter, Phynn, did the voice of Nathan––and rocked! She was only 10 at the time. It's weird to think she's a woman now. Geez, I'm getting old. Recently, it dawned on me that Cindy and I are about to have our first grandson in November––and his name is going to be, Henry! So, he already has his own story! How cool is that?!
PART 3 | The Bravest Girl in Gatlinburg
So, the first two stories were about heaven and how to get there. The last story is written, but has never been recorded in the studio. It's entitled, The Bravest Girl In Gatlinburg, and it deals mostly with life in the "now." In other words, it speaks to the listener who is already certain where he or she will be––say, two-hundred years from now––but is having a hard time figuring out how to live life TODAY... on this dying, decaying ball of soil, called Earth. Of the three stories, it is the one that still coaxes tears from my breast. I can only imagine my response when I finally listen to a recording of it. I'll be a wreck.
Okay. There you have it.
Heaven is real.
There is a way to get there.
And, in the meantime...
There is Someone who can help us do life well on Planet Earth.
Mister Cricket's Fire Fables
by Will Cunningham
Conceived for kids 6-12, (but loved by parents everywhere), Mister Cricket’s Fire-Fables are tales that teach the common courtesies of life through humor and intrigue. Set in a fictional woods known as, “Suavity Bosk”, each fable begins with a question, and each question is answered by John Cricket––the only human being in the bosk. Of course, Cricket’s answers are always a mixture of fact and fiction, but through this embroidered truth, the characters in Mister Cricket’s Fire-Fables gain wisdom, make better choices, treat others as they should be treated, and, in general, lead more fulfilling lives. If you’re looking for family entertainment wrapped in sound advice, Mister Cricket’s Fire-Fables are something you and your children can warm up to.
EP. 1 | Why Possums Have Pink Tails
Did you know that once upon a time, every possum in the woods (Suavity Bosk) had a tail as black and bushy as a skunk’s backside? Listen in to today’s tale as Mister Cricket takes us back to a time where a possum names Pokey Piddleman learned a valuable lesson in Obedience at the expense of his tail; because of a delicious pie.
EP. 2 | Why The Water Moccasin Swims On Top Of The Water
Why does the Water Moccasin swim on top of the water? Listen in to today’s tale as Mister Cricket takes us back to a blisteringly hot day in Suavity Bosk when a certain snake, named Slide, learned a valuable lesson in Generosity. Being generous and kind isn’t easy and we hope today’s fable shows the importance of those virtues.
EP. 3 | Why The Deer Has No Top Teeth
Why don’t deer have any top teeth? Did you know that there was once a time when all the deer of Suavity Bosk had top-teeth the size of a wolf’s! Sharp! And pointy! And not to be trifled with! Listen in to today’s tale as Mister Cricket takes us back to a time in Suavity Bosk when a certain deer, named Ten-Point Tom, learned a hard lesson in kindness with the help of some dental cement, a hardworking Hound, and a pool of delicious wonders.
EP. 4 | Why The Crow Is Black
Why is the crow black? Did you know that there was once a time all crows used to have feathers as white as the freshly fallen snow? If you want to know the truth about the crow, you’ll have to know the story of Reverend A. C. Babble, a certain crow with a divinity degree and a large congregation in Suavity Bosk. Listen in today as Mister Cricket takes us through a fable involving a crow with a very humbling fall.
EP. 5 | Why The Kudzu Grows So Fast
Why does the kudzu vine grow SO fast? Before you were born, there wasn’t a stitch of Kudzu in the South. There were vines, of course, vines of every kind. Maypop, Ground Nut, Dutchman’s Pipe, Trumpet Creeper… so many vines, a man couldn’t walk two feet without tripping. Listen in today as Mister Cricket weaves a fable for two unsuspecting bosk natives all about the importance of diligence through a very lazy entrepreneur.
EP. 6 | Why Poison Ivy Sometimes Looks Like Green Mittens
Why is it that poison ivy sometimes looks like green mittens? Well, it all starts a long time ago with a few mice named Dilly and Dally Brown. Dilly Brown was a White-Footed Deer Mouse who lived by the dump in an old, leather boot, with his mom and his dad and his brother, Dally. Now, Dilly and Dally were twins born two minutes apart. Gather around for today’s fable about truth-telling, and the upset stomach that comes with a lie about pie eating.
EP. 1 | Why The Black Bear Eats Everything
Welcome to Season 2 of Mister Crickets Fire Fables! You may sometimes wonder, why does the black bear eat everything? Would you believe us if we told you it all started with a food festival, a cit-wide diet, and the compassion of a jazz band? Gather around for today’s fable about a group of black bears that decided eating pie was more important than some musical instruments and a young doe’s growth in caring for those around her. You don’t want to miss this riveting fable!
EP. 2 | Why The Firefly Shines At Night
Have you ever asked yourself, “why do fireflies shine at night?” Well, would you believe us if we told you it all started with a toothache, a lone match, and a regular, old housefly with the bravest temperament around? Grab your parents and gather around for today’s fable about a dentist, a mayor with a sweet-tooth for the ages, and Ernie Alabaster, the bravest housefly to ever live. Don’t worry, if it’s not true, it should be.
EP. 3 | Why The Raccoon Wears A Mask
Have you ever been out on a front porch at night and wondered to yourself, “Why does the raccoon wear a mask?” A True mystery, indeed. Well, would you believe it if we told you that all raccoons used to have no black markings on their faces at all? And that it all started with a mischievous little raccoon from New Jersey named Risky Smith? Grab a friend, pull your parents in, and gather ’round as we weave a fable for you all about thankfulness. You won’t want to miss today’s fable featuring a Christmas catalog, a dutchess, and a mob of angry bosque town members.
EP. 4 | Why The Crawdad Walks Backwards
Have you ever had something about yourself that you would like to change? Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished there was something different about yourself? Well, so does Douglas Nutkin. But, thanks to a true story about a young recruit in the Crustacean Infantry during the Shell Confederacy and the Fish Union we will all learn why crawdads walk backward. God made each of us, individually, with love and care! He longs for us to be our authentic selves. Tune in for a great fable today, one you don’t want to miss!
EP. 5 | Why The Butcherbird Saves Its Food
Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Now, why does the butcherbird save its food?” Well, does Mister Cricket have a “true” story for you! It really all started with an old butcher bird by the name of Red Roughshanks, but everyone just called him The Red. Tune in to hear about how The Red went from being friendless to saving an entire town because of his selflessness and self-control. Gather around the campfire as John Cricket weaves another incredible fable for you and your family.
EP. 6 | Why The Owl Says "Who?"
Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Why does the owl say, ‘Who’?” Well, have we got a fable for you today, you are in for a real treat! Listen in as John, Zeke, and Charlotte explore a part of the woods that is rarely walked by others. John gives his young friends a lesson in imagination, fighting boredom, and how to use your mind to keep you entertained! In the end, you may be asking yourself if this is really true? Well, if it’s not it should be.