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And there's a really interesting one that bootstrapped itself from a single
shell script (only).  It had the lua source embedded inside, compiled it,
and ran the result to feed the lua scripted builds.  All one had to do was
distribute the source code to the target app, and this script, and it would
build.  But I may be referring to an older version of PM, as bootstrapping
the build system is one of its features as well.

I'm guessing you are indeed referring to Prime Mover. Reading your description reminded me of an e-mail to lua-l by David Given, the author of Prime Mover (it might have been the announcement of Prime Mover). From the "About Prime Mover" page [1]:

Easy deployment (all of pm's core code consists of exactly file, which can > be run on nearly any platform --- no installation or compilation

I really don't have a need for Prime Mover at the moment but I was as fascinated by it as you (Bruce) apparently were :)

 - Peter Odding