By the Fooler on the Hill

If you are currently omitted from the exposé, there is always next year. After all, there was limited space, but not unlimited stories. See the 2019 edition.

 Jane Koenig, Communications Made Easy. San Francisco, 2018.

 Koenig’s book is an extensive investigation into the fanciful funding of Jim Davis’s last three campaigns for the North Carolina Senate. “I have been able to trace a link from the Pope foundations to the Koch Brothers to the Mercer Family that defies common sense. It appears those groups have been, with the cooperation of Donald Trump’s Make America Gross Again Campaign PAC to pour several million dollars into the economy of western North Carolina,” claims Koenig. Not only has Davis been a major benefactor, but so, too, have several county commissioner candidates throughout the region. The resultant communication campaign, which extends from traditional billboards to a dump truck, from multiple mailings to digital targeting, has been overwhelming and overwhelmingly successful. A book for potential campaigners to pursue and current Democrats to ponder.


Frank Burrell and Louise Burrell, What Really Happens in Alaska Stays in Alaska: The True and Startling Story. Fairbanks, 2017.

 Although few people know that the Burrell Family is as attuned to traditional crafts as the local Morgan Family, their tenure in Alaska provided them with a steady sideline income. They continue to run a web site on which buyers can find ulu knives, qiviut hats, whale oil soaps, glacial mud for face masks, and birch syrup, using an Alaskan web address and native Alaskan co-op members to supply product. The rise of that on-line business is the main topic of this book, which highlights the connections they made during their Alaska years and the ways in which they have been able to fund craft-making from afar.


J.C. and Carolyn Cagle, Life with Max and Other Secrets to a Successful Retirement. New York: 2016.

 Max, also known as the “Third Cutest Dog in Jackson County,” is the surprise narrator of this self-help retirement book. Who knew he was literate?

J.C. and Carolyn, Max notes, “have grown better at the retirement gig, particularly with the elimination of those pesky Democrats and their fund-raising. They have grown in their admiration of the very admirable me and I now can spend my leisure hours aboard the Cagle yacht in Lake Fontana, as I deserve, of course.”

Included in the book is a self-help twenty-two step process designed to ensure a robust extended family life, a well-designed retirement house (complete with multiple Max spots), chilled wine and a good back porch. Max will be signing autographs at City Lights on June 22, for those who are looking for an opportunity to meet the author and collect a first edition.


Roy Osborn and Myrtle Schrader, The Travel Diaries. New York, 2018.

 The Jackson County world really wants to know where the Osborn-Schrader team goes every winter. There has been speculation of migratory illnesses, winter weather allergies, public policy exhaustions, and global diamond ring conspiracies. However, they reveal all in this exciting travel book, complete with uncensored photographs and maps.

Although there is an over-emphasis, perhaps, on tennis, golf, accidents and wedding planning, which seem common to the various locales, it is redeemed by the travel hints scattered throughout the book. Who knew that renting to Myrtle could result in a total house cleaning, for example?

They will be hosting a Democratic fund-raiser at Greening Up the Mountain. Players can, for a twenty dollar contribution, suggest their next winter vacation. The maker of the winning suggestion will have the delight of watching them attempt to find lodging and sustenance in whatever far-flung destination they pick. Faroe Islands anyone?


Joyce Stratton, The Life and Times of a Baking Woman. Dallas, 2018.

 Most people know Stratton as the traveling member of the local Austin Family, but her real claim to fame is pound cake. She has managed to work her magic in such diverse places as Washington DC, West Virginia and Dallas, Texas. Complete with recipes and mouth-watering photographs, this combination memoir and cookbook is a must for anyone hoping to impress relatives with desserts at Christmas.

Stratton also reveals for the first time why she turned down the Cooking Channel’s multiple requests for a reality show.


Eric Myers and Pam Crouse, A Life with Sunlight and Other Stories. New York, 2017.

 Environmental enthusiasts Myers and Krauss are creating a photo-electric grid outside Sylva that will be able to power much of the northern part of Jackson County. At least they hope it will. The multiple law suits they have filed against Duke Power, which is lobbying for the Myers-Krauss Exclusion Bill in Raleigh may keep them from their dream on in-lightening much of their neighborhood.

In addition, the Myers-Krauss family are pioneering an extensive front-yard garden and the purchase of a new open kayak means that they have a ready protein supply from their front yard facing river to supplement the vegetables.

The interconnected essays of the book highlight their back-to-earth credo and their efforts to complement the minimalist movement with political activism. For anyone interested in self-sufficiency, this is an excellent starter manual on how-to-do-it with a conscience.


Dan and Jane Perlmutter, Jamaica and Us. Chicago, 2018.

 Longtime teachers for Western Carolina University’s Jamaica Program, the Perlmutters reveal for the first time that they were barely paid double agents for the CIA. Initially recruited during their Peace Corps tenure, they colluded with anti-war activists to become CIA moles. So, as the CIA believed they were getting information on possible connections among Central American and Caribbean governments’ links to the former USSR, they were really getting ready-made intelligence from a couple of American educators on the value of early childhood education and single cell biology discoveries.

Unfortunately, the CIA did not take any of that intelligence to heart, as evidenced by the recent expulsion of science from the National Science Foundation and the new school policies coming from the DeVos Department of Education.

The real value of the book is that they are not hesitant to name names. Tucker Carlson of Fox News calls it a “scandal and disgrace.” Alex Jones, one of the nation’s premier conspiracy theorists, claims he’s “impressed by the thoroughness of their narratives.” Bill O’Reilly notes “this book could be what I base my comeback on.”


Jenifer and Jim Montsinger, The True Story of the Durham Dallies. Raleigh, NC, 2017.

 Durham is, in some ways, the poor sister to Raleigh and Chapel Hill. During their time in Durham, while employed, ostensibly in social services, both Montsingers were working underground with the local Chamber of Commerce to enhance the city’s reputation.

This book details the ways in which the Montsingers succeeded in so-doing: the elimination of tobacco and tobacco barns from the cityscape while building the Duke Homestead state historic site; the hiring of Mike Krzyzewskit at Duke (who knew Jim had the goods on him at West Point?); the invention of micro-brewing; the filming of Bull Durham and the continued success of minor league baseball; the preservation of Bennett Place; and the crown jewel of the city, the V&E Simonetti Historic Tuba Collection.

Follow their efforts in this chronological narrative of boosterism.


Barbara Bell, Football is My Life. Atlanta, 2017.

 Bell was first hired by the Carolina Panthers in 2002, unbeknownst to her friends and then-employer, WCU. She served initially as a scout for the team, focusing primarily on regional talent, but occasionally using travel to education conventions as an excuse for checking out players in other parts of the nation. Responsible for some of the best hires by the Panthers during her decade with the club, she was lured away by a better offer from the Atlanta Falcons in 2012.

Part football memoir, part a homage to football in general, Bell manages to combine the best elements of the game (violence, hunky guys) with the moderating influence of strategy (“football is chess on a field”). Because of some mature material, this book is not recommended for a young adult audience.


Lorna Barnett, The Frozen North. Toronto, 2018.

 Canadian by birth, Barnett realized that she had short-changed her native country in the tourist department. So, with the good will of friends and the determination of a fearless tourist with a bucket list, she proposed to head as north as she could get to: (1) see polar bears before they’re gone and (2) see the northern lights before we compromise them, also.

The book begins with Barnett’s fascination with northern climes, including the influence of Frankenstein (it ends near the North Pole), Ice Station Zebra (nuclear submarines and the arctic ice pack – what can go wrong?), The Call of the Wild, and a collection of books about Svalbard. It continues through a travelogue of her various bucket list notches and culminates with a bunch of woolen clothes, long johns, and hand warmers near Churchill.

The ending is not to be missed, since it’s not yet concluded.