Tobit: Second Movement, 1840

Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South.  A film treatment in eight movements with prologue and epilogue.

TobitSecond Movement – Games and the Runaway.  Five years have passed and Tobit (15) has matured into a strong, athletic young man.  Talk of abolition is everywhere and the men of the South consider succession and civil war a real possibility.  Concerned that southern young men are mentally strong but physically weak, Master ASHUR (45) and friends from the southern states stage games of fitness at the Erskine Academy in South Carolina where white students will match their physical prowess against plantation slaves.  Tobit meets DAVIE (16) as they run tied behind Master Ashur’s carriage from Nineveh to Due West, some 125 miles.  There are three events:  stone put; caber toss; and ‘run the hill’ based on the ancient games of Malcolm Canmore of Scotland.  The slaves easily win the initial events, but a bond is formed between Tobit and the French student ETIENNE BROUSSARD (15) while they toss the caber.  During the final event – the hill running – Master Robert’s slave CATO (14) makes his break for freedom and succeeds.

Tobit: First Movement, 1835

Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South.  A film treatment in eight movements with prologue and epilogue.

TobitThe young TOBIT (10) meets ANNA (10).  The twang of overseer WOLFENBÜTTEL’s (25) Jew’s harp announces the approach of a slow procession of new slaves to the compound that houses the blacks who work on Master Ashur’s Nineveh Plantation.    Tobit climbs a tree that hangs above the road and watches through the deep green foliage.  As he drops acorns to gain a young girl’s attention, he muses, “She is as plain as a loaf of bread, but in her melancholy, I glimpse a heart that longs for companionship … I determine that I will provide it for her.”  Tobit’s mother MINERVY (35) and the other slaves prepare a feast to welcome the new families.  Wolfenbüttel ends the festivities in the early evening with a gunshot.  “Master says it’s time for you nigga’s to quiet down.”  The slaves obediently return to their hovels and end the evening with a gospel prayer, “I Know Moonrise.”

Tobit: Prologue

Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South.  A film treatment in eight movements with prologue and epilogue.

Prologue – 1925 …

The story opens as four young people in an automobile stop at an old compound of weathered shacks on the side of a nameless dirt road somewhere in Georgia.  The slaves of Nineveh, a once thriving plantation in the 19th century lived here.  An old man greets the travelers and offers them water from his well.  When they tell him it is 1925, he realizes he is 100-years old.  The old man is TOBIT.  The automobile and its passengers move on.  Tobit returns to the ancient rocking chair on the porch and contemplates the last time anyone ever called him ‘sir.’

E.S. Kraay
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938

Alistair McKenzie’s Epiphany

Late in November 2014, I decided to offer The Christmas Story sequence from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as a download on my websites.  After tipping my hand to my friend Father Paul, he encouraged me to read the sequence at the Masses at the Redemptorist Renewal Center during this Epiphany weekend.

Continue reading Alistair McKenzie’s Epiphany

Tobit and the Canticle of the Plains

I begin 2015 with several diverse projects and manuscripts on my desk.  At least one has to do with film.

Ragamuffin
Rich Mullins, 1955 – 1997

My interest in singer-songwriter Rich Mullins has blossomed since the film Ragamuffin debuted on DVD in 2013.  I have watched it many times for many reasons.  In the fall of 2014, I finally acquired a copy of Mullins’ little known musical Canticle of the Plains based on the life of St. Francis and set in the post-Civil War American West.  I was able to purchase the CD from Mitch McVicker who co-wrote the musical with Rich Mullins and David Strasser.  The music and the story so captured me that I attempted to option the film rights despite my understanding of the difficulties of production and the limited odds of successful distribution.

For example, while I enjoy the film Ragamuffin on different levels, it never achievedRich Mullins theatrical release and in over a year, DVD and Blu-ray sales are less than $200,000.  Still, I believe the story of St. Francis as written by Rich Mullins and his co-writers has a far broader appeal on many levels, so I was willing to take the chance.

I couldn’t get it done, but through the process, I realized that what Rich Mullins did with the story of St. Francis, I did with Tobit and the Hoodoo Man … I retold the biblical story of Tobit in the Civil War South.  The more I thought about it, the more I could visualize a film.

David LeanEven as a young person, I have always paid attention to the hundreds of people who bring their talents together to construct a film.  As a teenager, my next-door neighbor, Lenny LaMothe – to whom I dedicated Tobit and the Hoodoo Man – took me to the Union Square Theater to watch Lawrence of Arabia.  I was quick to note the film was directed by David Lean who had previously directed The Bridge on the River Kwai and who would later direct Dr. Zhivago, all award winning films of the highest caliber.

Years later, my friend Steven Pressfield would tell me that David Lean once said that a full-length movie was usually composed of seven or eight movements or sections.  The more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me.

During the upcoming weeks, I will write a film ‘treatment’ for Tobit and the Hoodoo Man in eight Tobit and the Hoodoo Manmovements.  I plan to put it up on the website one movement at a time.  Tobit is a story about believing …. Believing in yourself … in others … and in the impossible!  It teaches a lesson I have tried to teach my children and my grandkids:  Good things happen to good people.

All film treatments begin with a ‘logline.’  I will conclude this introduction to the Tobit film treatment with a logline …

“A black slave, faced with a plantation abandoned by its white owners in Civil War America must find $2,000 to purchase the land from its former brutal overseer, a member of the Circle of Brothers.  He seeks help from the mysterious Hoodoo Man and discovers that everything is possible.”

Celebrate the Three Wise Men

MagiWhen Father Paul Coury, Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Picture Rocks, Arizona encouraged me to witness and read the nativity sequence from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ in lieu of a homily on Epiphany weekend, I contacted my friend and business associate Alistair McKenzie – screenwriter, actor, director, musician – who produced audio books of two of my novels, The Sixth Day and The Olympian.

I am pleased to announce that Alistair will be making the trip from LA to Tucson this weekend to

The Sixth Day
Alistair McKenzie – actor, composer, playwright, screenwriter, producer, director

read the story as Christians around the world commemorate the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.  Epiphany concludes the celebration of the Christmas season.

Epiphany weekend Masses at the RRC are scheduled for

  • Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 7:30 a.m. and
  • Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

If you happen to be in the area this weekend, I invite you to attend one of the three Masses and join the celebration.  Christian Music Minister Tom Booth is scheduled to provide worship music at all three Masses, and Father Greg Wiest will be celebrating the Eucharist.

We All Know

On this winter solstice – the longest night of the year – I think of the birth of light and how it grows to envelope the Earth and everything that is a part of creation.  I will contemplate on that light every day this week as we approach Christmas Day.  As I do, I will smile as I reflect on Alistair McKenzie’s song We All Know.

Alistair McKenzie

Early Christmas Gifts

Gaspar

 

 

Just two weeks before Christmas!  

Throughout the year, I receive inspiration from everyone who supports my writing efforts by reading my books and reading my posts on this website and also on the Vitruvian Man and Tucson Poverello House websites.  Your comments, reviews and feedback are invaluable to me.  Your words keep me energized, particularly when my batteries run low.  As a gesture of my appreciation, I am pleased to offer these two gifts 

  • The Christmas Story from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as a PDF download and
  • The Christmas Story from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as an audio presentation produced by my friend and business associate Alistair McKenzie.

A Special thanks to Alistair for producing this audio AND for writing an original Christmas song “We All Know” featured at the conclusion of the narrative.  His song captures the essence of the entire story of Gaspar in a very special way.

You have made my life better.  I hope these small tokens of gratitude make your Christmas a bit more meaningful.

Your Grateful Friend,

Gene “E.S.” Kraay

The Christmas Story PDF

The Christmas Story PDF

A Special Gift

E.S. KraayYesterday, I received an email from an old friend and teammate, gentleman Sean Riley.  He just completed reading Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ.  When I get back home, I will add his comments to the “What They’re Saying” page.  Sean recalled a few years back when I started writing Gaspar that I put the nativity sequence up on the website as a download.  He asked for a copy so he could read it to his grandkids on Christmas Eve.

With thanks to all the people who have taken time to comment and review my work since The Olympian was published in 2008, I have to admit that Sean’s request means more to me than any I’ve received.

GasparEvery Christmas, I try to put up a free download on my websites as a gesture of my appreciation for the support and inspiration I get from readers and subscribers of my websites and of my novels.  Two years ago, I put up the draft of the nativity sequence from Gaspar.  I titled the nativity sequence The Star, which is the title of the chapter from which I take it.  In December 2012, I wrote that I expected the book to be out by December 2013.  I was only a year off!

This year, I have decided to offer the final version of the nativity sequence as it appears in the final version of the book published in August 2014.  Sean’s email came when we had already made the decision to offer The Christmas Story from Gaspar as this year’s appreciation gift.E.S. Kraay

As I was preparing the short manuscript for download, I had another wild idea.  I called my friend and business associate Alistair McKenzie in Los Angeles.  Alistair produced the audio books for The Sixth Day, A 17,175-Word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting and The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  He also wrote and performed the song We Pray for Light, which will undoubtedly be featured in The Sixth Day film – working title Third Man – if we get lucky and see it to fruition.  I asked Alistair if he would consider reading the sequence and producing a short audio.  He agreed.  I pushed the envelope and asked him if he would consider writing a Christmas song to accompany the reading.  Within a few days, he sent me his draft, an amazing original song tentatively titled We All Know.

The Sixth Day
Alistair McKenzie – actor, composer, playwright, screenwriter, producer, director

When I told my friend Father Paul Coury at the Redemptorist Center what I was up to, he encouraged me to ‘witness’ why I wrote Gaspar and to read the sequence and play Alistair’s song at all three Masses over Epiphany weekend, January 3 and 4, 2015.  I thought about it and called Alistair to discuss it.  With little hesitation, Alistair McKenzie agreed to come to Tucson and read The Christmas Story from Gaspar at Our Lady of the Desert Church at the Redemptorist Center over Epiphany weekend.  More on that later.

This is my initial announcement that this special gift – a PDF download of Gaspar’s Christmas Story, Alistair’s audio producThe Olympiantion and accompanying Christmas song – will be available for download at no charge later this month.  Please look for it and spread the ‘good news.’  As much as I want to say this is my gift to you, I know it is as much a product of Alistair McKenzie’s generous and creative heart.  More to follow soon …..

Giving Thanks

GasparOne of my favorite films is the 1992 version of James Fenimore Cooper’s classic Last of the Mohicans.  The film opens as Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas chase down a deer for their meal.  Before partaking of the animal, they kneel before its lifeless body and thank it for sharing itself with them.  I think of that scene often as I try to slow my pace of eating in this hectic world we live in.

I used the scene early in Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as the young Gaspar journeys to Kanheri with his slave Androkles and his Indian guide Bhima

“… I have learned during the first two nights that no one will ever eat food in Bhima’s presence without first thanking whatever powers he believes in for furnishing us with this food … Tonight, I take a single bite and chew it unhurriedly, thinking about the field of wheat that offers me its grain.  The wheat field rolls wave after effortless wave through my mind, powered by a soft breeze that flows in rhythm with the breath of the world.  I take a second bite and imagine a smiling woman using the grain to make the dough.  And so it goes as I picture the flowering lentil and thank it for giving me sustenance.”

On this Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to slow your pace and thank God for being a part of creation that generously shares itself with its brothers and sisters.

Mitakuye Oyasin.