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PUBLIC COWBOY NO. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry
By Holly George-Warren
$28.00, Oxford University Press
http://www.oup.com, www.oup.com

There is nothing more iconicaly American than the visage of a singing cowboy, and none is more revered than Gene Autry, Hollywood legend of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. In her wonderful new biography, PUBLIC COWBOY NO. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry, author Holly George-Warren makes it brilliantly clear why he was and still is revered by musicians such as Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville and Ringo Starr.

Born on September 29, 1907 in Indian Creek, Oklahoma, Orvon Eugene Autry grew up on a farm whose most profitable commodity was corn liquor. Living in Oklahoma and Texas during his formative years, Autry eventually got work with the Frisco railroad, which he later said “were among the happiest years in my life.” It was here that he was exposed to a variety of music and performers like Gene Austin, Al Jolson and Will Rogers, whom he eventually met. By 1927, Orvon had changed his name to Gene and was in New York. Working and recording regularly, he eventually went on to earn five stars on “The Hollywood Walk of Fame” for film, recording, television, radio and live performance, after starring in more than 90 films and making over 600 recordings.

Ms. George-Warren, an award-winning writer and western enthusiast, brings Autry to life in this amazingly well researched and beautifully written book, which is the first comprehensive biography written about him. With vivid behind-the-scenes anecdotes from those who knew him best, both living and dead, this fascinating account of Autry’s life reveals not only his talents as a legendary entertainer and musician, but also a shrewd businessman in the vein of P.T. Barnum. Autry eventually became a multimillionaire,, and included hotels, TV and Radio stations, and eventually the California Angels baseball franchise, in his empire.

Leaving no stone unturned, George-Warren never flinches when talking about Autry’s less lovable traits, such as his womanizing and his over-the-top drinking. But in the end, what we are left with is a well-painted portrait of a man who was an inspiration to the well-known artists of his day, and who left a lasting legacy for the artists of today. It could easily be said Autrey’s impact changed the face of country music, making it what it is today.

THE CLUTTER CURE: Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space and Creating the Home of Your Dreams
By Judi Culbertson
$19.95, McGraw Hill
"http://www.mhprofessional.com" www.mhprofessional.com

On more than one occasion, I have looked around my house and wished I could wave a magic wand to instantly de-clutter it. Not that I’m a major pack rat, but I do have my fair share of unwanted junk I’ve been saving for no good reason. Short of my fairy Godmother coming to call, I have discovered the next best thing: Judi Culbertson’s new book THE CLUTTER CURE Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space and Creating the Home of Your Dreams.

Ms. Culbertson has been helping people just like me turn their cluttered homes into comfortable showplaces for a couple of decades, by implementing her three step plan which is easy to follow and garners great results. Step 1- Identify, Step 2- Assess, and Step 3- Take Action.

In Step 1, we are asked to examine our emotional relationship to our physical world. Why do we hold on to things we don’t need like broken furniture, clothes we never wear or the piles of papers, cards and mementos that no longer have a place in our lives? With the aid of “Stuff Lists” we are asked to catalogue these things, note why we still have them and decide if we would rather “keep, toss, or shred” the items in question. Once you have completed this process, it’s on to Step 2, where we are asked to assess our living space and determine how it would look in a perfect world. Then in Step 3, we decide what to do with unwanted items by tossing them, giving them away or selling them. Peppered throughout the book are lists of the dangerous phrases we use to hold on to our junk such as “I’ll keep it just in case” or “I paid good money for this” or my favorite, “Maybe my feet will shrink”” as well as a timetable to chart your progress and ideas for handling situations involving parenthood and retirement.

Although the process may seem a bit daunting, this will probably be the last book you will ever need to buy on organizing, because Ms. Culbertson’s strategies are more about changing ourselves and our attitudes towards unneeded stuff than it is about a simple spring cleaning.

THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG EXCUSES: More Strategies and Techniques for Faking It
By Addie Johnson
$9.95, Conari Press
http://www.conari.com, www.conari.com

All of us, from time to time, miss a deadline, are late to a wedding or simply cannot follow through with a blind date and it’s hard to come up with an excuse that we are sure will be believed. Well fear not, because next time you are faced with this dilemma, you can reach for THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG EXCUSES: More Strategies and Techniques for Faking It and all will be right with the world.

Author Addie Johnson outlines believable ways to get you out of most any situation, beginning with “Stretching the Truth” where we are encouraged to perfect the little white lie. Let’s say you want to take the day off work and your boss knows you have a fear of mice. Simply tell your boss that you have to stay home to greet the exterminator, because even the thought of setting traps gives you chills. This incorporates a fragment of truth without having to say that you’ll be spending the day at the beach.

Need an excuse because you are terribly late or didn’t show up? Try the” My housemate put food in my shoes” or “The traffic on the bridge was backed up for an hour, I turned around and went home” excuse. Are you forgetful? Just claim Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, pregnancy or a concussion, says Ms. Johnson. Of course, there are situations that call for the truth, such as forgetting your Mom’s birthday or your wedding anniversary, but in cases such as these, we are urged to tell the truth and make up for it with an expensive gift and a lot of groveling. Also included here are great excuses for not answering emails and returning phone calls in a timely manner as well as nifty ways to break a second date with someone you’d rather not see again.

Funny and ingenious, this little book would make a great gift for friends and family and will be an especially welcome addition to the collections of those who are excuse challenged.

THE DOG WHISPERER: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Training Dogs
By Paul Owens with Norma Eckroate
$14.95, Adams Media

If you are a dog owner, you can appreciate the challenges that often come with training your canine buddy. But with the release of the 2nd edition (200,000 copies have already been sold) of THE DOG WHISPERER: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Training Dogs, the trials and tribulations of training your pet just got easier.

Authors Paul Owens and Norma Eckroate take you on a step-by-step journey, starting with Part One, “The Basics of Dog Training”. This chapter introduces reward based training techniques, socialization techniques and other elements that combine to set up a daily routine, paramount to creating a safe environment for your dog. Tips on proper nutrition and exercise regimes are also included in this section as well as ways to open the doors of communication between you and the canine member of your family.

In Part Two, “Training Essentials”, the authors share some secrets that professional trainers use, such as positive reinforcement and repetition of exercises, which will insure that your dog gets used to each task he’s asked to perform such as staying, sitting or coming when called. Also included in this section are ways to fast track your training, such as “Six Training Tools to Modify a Dog’s Behavior” and a chapter on how to make your commands count, where you learn how to give your words power.

Other chapters deal with behavior modification, care and feeding, leashes and collars and how to break your dog of bad habits like begging for food or barking uncontrollably. This comprehensive guide, complete with photos and diagrams, illustrates the simple and humane ways you can teach your dog to be well behaved and under your control, therefore becoming a welcome addition to your pack.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 72 - September 2018
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