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Tired of Blockbusters? Try These See-Worthy Tapes

June 12, 1997|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Though it's a big summer for movie videos, there are plenty of special-interest tapes in the marketplace.

The Dalai Lama is featured in two new videos. In MPI's "Secular Meditation" ($20), the humanitarian discusses the benefits of meditation and how one should distinguish between religious subjects, like faith, and what he calls "basic human good qualities," such as compassion and love.

Mystic Fire's "The Four Noble Truths" series ($108 for the four-tape set; $35 each) was taped last year over two days at London's Barbican Hall. The event marks the first time the Dalai Lama has made a public presentation of the foundations of Buddhist teachings. Call (800) 292-9001.

Author John Lee explores what prevents people from loving, giving, receiving and creating their lives more artfully in the self-help tape "Being Who You Are: Creating an Artful Life" (Lightworks, $20). Call (800) 795-TAPE.

Plenty of laughs can be found in "George's Best Stuff" ($20). The 90-minute tape serves up irreverent observations of the award-winning comedian George Carlin. Culled from Carlin's popular HBO specials, the video features such popular routines as "Stuff," "Baseball & Football," "Cars and Driving," "Losing Things" and the infamous "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." Call (800) 557-1199.

Englishman Rowan Atkinson has scored big hits in America with his comedy series "Black Adder" and "Mr. Bean." Polygram has released two volumes of his latest series, "The Thin Blue Line" ($20 each). Atkinson plays a befuddled English police officer commanding a squad of eccentrics in a fictitious suburb of London. Not up to the par of "Adder" or "Bean," but Atkinson is always a joy.

"The Art of Shaving" (APS Video, $10) is for guys who still cut themselves. Released just in time for Father's Day, the comedic educational tape consults master barbers in Southern California on how to achieve the perfect shave. Call (213) 962-8203.

So you've just purchased a personal computer installed with Windows 95 and Microsoft Office 97, and you haven't a clue about how to use either of them. WinStruct's "Learn! Office 97: Word, Excel & Powerpoint" and "Learn! Outlook 97: Getting Started" ($25 each) offer clear and concise instructions on how to use the software. Produced by Microsoft, the tapes feature instructors Tom Jaffee and Keith White, who have trained more than 100,000 users on Windows and Office. Call (800) 242-4842.

If you're looking for a new hobby, there's "Secrets From the Garden" (Unsworth Productions, $25), a 100-minute tape that demonstrates how to make five dried floral arrangements. Floral designer Kim Unsworth offers step-by-step instructions on such designs as a 30-inch wreath, a heart wreath and a centerpiece. Call (800) 983-7233.

The budding social dancer may want to cut a rug to Nancy Hays' "Introductory Overview" from her "Bring Back the Romance of Dance" ($20) video and CD series. Hays and partner Greg Gale teach introductory steps to six standard ballroom dances--the fox trot, swing, tango, waltz, rumba and the always popular cha cha cha. Call (800) 383-8811.

If you've learned how to juggle your work, your family and your social life, but are all thumbs when it comes to juggling objects, there's "You Can Juggle! In 30 Minutes or Less" (Retro Mondo, $20). Professional juggler Daniel Rosen is the engaging host of the fast-paced tape, which comes with three juggling balls. Call (800) 216-7740.

The latest railroad videos from Pentrex include "Union Pacific's Marysville Subdivision Vol. 1" ($50), which focuses on the single track rail line that spans a sparsely populated region between Kansas City, Kan., and Gibbon, Neb.

"Sunrise/Sunset: A Day at Gibbon Junction" ($20) captures 73 trains traveling through the busiest all-freight railroad junction in the world--Union Pacific's Gibbon Junction in Nebraska. Call (800) 950-9333.

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