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••art

Did you ever take a close look at the people who while the hours away, charcoal in hand, staring at museum walls? No, not the guys who silk-screen the wall-text—the sketchers, of course. Most somehow manage to ignore the throngs of visitors and won't even flinch if you sneak a peek at their pads. Learn from and about the Metropolitan's vast collection as you draw on its masters in drawings of your own, in "The New School at the Met: Learning to Look by Learning to Draw" (229-5690; www.nsu.newschool.edu).


Do you know what's inside of the top of the Citicorp Building? Have you ever sat in a Barcelona Chair inside of one of Mies's houses? Want to know what the wedding cake/lipstick edifice is actually called? Check out the New School's "An Architectural History of Manhattan" (229-5690; www.nsu.newschool.edu), and finally take your AIA guide off the coffee table. Landmarks and landmarks and landmarks, oh my!


Blank white walls? Argh! Spruce up your apartment, if not your apron, with a class on "Mural Painting" at the New School (229-5690; www.nsu.newschool.edu), but be sure to check your lease for the clause that implores you to paint over your Guernica before you leave. —Jennifer Snow

••cooking

"Did it ever cross Emeril's mind that we notice that he doesn't chop a single thing? He may be a charmer, but he rarely breaks out more than his Microplane when it comes time to prepare any dish. I don't have a gaggle of eager young kitchen assistants peeling my potatoes so that I can recompose during each commercial break. Heck, I don't even have commercial breaks, and so I'm determined to embrace the New School's "Mise en Place: Professional Cooking Techniques for Home Meals" (229-5690; www.nsu.newschool.edu).


In college I built an architectural model of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Out of cake. (Breuer I'm not.) My rationale was that baked batter could be the perfect stand in for site-cast concrete. Little did I know that rolled fondant would be a hard-sell for the inverted ziggurat's granite sheath. I learned from Las Vegas, all right, but perhaps enrolling in the Institute of Culinary Education's "Techniques of Cake Decorating" would have been more practical (847-0700; www.iceculinary.com).


I ate the apple at the Japan Society's Yoko Ono show. I like art. I like food. I like how Yoko tempted me to do what I've always wanted to do but never dared in such a setting. Her apple and her art sat there teasingly while those depicted in the Metropolitan's paintings look a little less palatable and a lot more heavily alarmed. The 92nd Street Y's "Art and Food: Looking and Cooking" (415-5500; www.92Y.org) actually encourages interaction, albeit in the class's kitchen sessions, after the museum tours. —Jennifer Snow

••dance

"Brazilian sounds are having a good millennium; hell, Tropicalismo star Gilberto Gil is his country's new culture minister. Jump this train at the Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre in Union Square (477-3464; www.djoniba.com), which holds popular Samba classes for $13, plus instruction in disciplines from Afro-Caribbean dance to yoga.


Group tango lessons historically are a notorious (and classy!) catalyst for kindling—or dousing—relationships, romantic and otherwise. The You Should Be Dancing studio (244-0011; www.youshouldbedancing.net) can't make such promises, but it offers Argentine tango classes for beginner and intermediate levels at $65 for four sessions.


After that new Tolkien movie, I foresee a craze for Renaissance fairs and Morris dancing classes. The latter are rare or possibly banned in NYC, but Country Dance*New York, Inc. (459-4080; www.cdny.org) does have English country dances Tuesday evenings through early June at Metropolitan-Duane Hall; an MC and live band teach newcomers for an $11 tithe. —E. McMurtrie

••drama

There're plenty of dreamers who burn to be onstage, but folks qualified to sweat the offstage details are less common. That's where "Producing a Play," beginning February 24 at Hunter College (www.hunter.cuny.edu), comes in: the 10-evening continuing-ed course covers the logistics and financing of theater productions, all for $250.


As well as being home to some mind-bending comedy ensembles, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea (366-9176; www.ucbtheater.com) hosts "Manhattan Improv Guerrilla Camps"—unique, intensive courses in improvisational comedy. Registration for the next eight-week "Level 1" session begins January 13; courses are $300 and fill up quickly.


Anonymous strangers have erected a Web site devoted to my thespian friend, all without his face gracing stage or screen. How's it possible? He dubs anime cartoons into English. Take the $425 "Introduction to Voice-Overs" course at the New School (229-5600; www.nsu.newschool.edu), beginning February 4, and earn that unlisted phone number you deserve. —E. McMurtrie

••fashion

My sister schooled me on the finer points of going out with Louis. Check his color, his seams, and above all, don't even think about letting him wear that goddamned Sprouse graffiti out of the house. I'm all for the Canal Street Special, but she's taught me that sometimes a crashing credit limit is more enjoyable than the crashing of those metal gates when the cops come around. Since she's not your sister, take NYU's "The Icon of Accessories: The Handbag" (www.scps.nyu.edu).


We all saw the special: Mariah's stylist spouting, "I'm going to need to take 12 of these." I'm going to need?! Well, I'm going to need to take "Fashionspeak: How to Get What You Want When You Need It" at the Fashion Institute of Technology (217-7999; www.fitnyc.edu). Once, a salesgirl asked me if I was interested in signing up for their credit card. I told her I didn't need one. She replied, complete with arms swinging scale-style, "Need? Want? Need? Want?" Perhaps if I had taken this class I wouldn't have had to slap her.


"I like big butts and I cannot lie," and while this won't help me much with my dream of styling the music videos of today, it may serve as indication that I am in dire need of a music business fashion primer à la F.I.T.'s "Fashion Styling and Consulting: Music Groups and Stars" (217-7999; www.fitnyc.edu). —Jennifer Snow

••film

The 92nd Street Y/Makor's "Screenwriting Workshop" (415-5500) lets students develop an idea into the first draft of a screenplay. The six-session course begins March 4 at the Steinhardt Building (35 West 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus). Cost: $120.


NYU's "Behind the Silver Screen" workshop (998-7200) probes the success and failure of current movies, exploring the strategies involved in making profitable films. The course runs February 9-23, meeting on Sundays from 2-3:30. Cost: $95.


The New School's "Introduction to Cinema Studies" (229-5690) provides an analysis of the methods that filmmakers use to transmit information to viewers. The class meets on Thursdays from 5:50-7:35, starting February 6. —Ben Kenigsberg

••finance

"Get Free Money From the Government" instructor Matthew Lesko—the guy with those frantic TV ads—doesn't need exposure here, but his $49 seminar on January 22 at the Learning Annex (www.learningannex.com) might condense the time you'd otherwise spend perusing his book; the course is certainly topical, and you can inquire about his super-villain outfit.


With unemployment holding steady, maybe it's time for that "Starting Your Own Business" class at La Guardia Community College (718-482-5315; www.lagcc.cuny.edu) in Queens; for $45 plus a $10 registration fee, you'll learn the rough essentials in one six-hour stint: "legal structures, licenses and permits, insurance," and the IRS. The next session is February 8.


The "Managing Money Mindfully" business course at the New School (229-5600; www.nsu.newschool.edu) doesn't presume enrollees are uniformly enthusiastic about serving Mammon; instead, it addresses "underlying psychological, emotional, and spiritual issues" of personal financial planning. The healing begins March 31 and runs $50 for two Monday evenings. —E. McMurtrie

••international study

While a typical university-level international-studies course can set you back thousands of dollars, the New School (229-5488; www.nsu.newschool.edu/02_special.htm) offers some less pricey alternatives. For example, "Cuban Culture Today: Inside and Outside Cuba" examines the island's soul through its art, architecture, and politics in seven sessions for $200; a single session is $35.


Aspiring global jet-setters should consider Berkeley College's International Business program (986-4343; www.berkeleycollege.edu), where those pursuing associate's or bachelor's degrees—or even just auditing one class—can complete much of their coursework online. Berkeley also employs smart business sense by protecting its continuously enrolled full-time students from tuition increases.


The Asia Society offers regular lectures, concerts, and exhibitions by prominent Asian personalities. In February, Mallika Sarabhai, an Indian dancer, actress, CEO, and activist, lectures on the role of art in social change. Check the Web site for more options: www.asiasociety.org. —Danial Adkison

••language

Wir tanzen im 4-eck! Deutsches Haus at NYU (998-8660; www.nyu.edu/deutscheshaus/index.shtml) provides, in conjunction with the Goethe-Institut New York, a comprehensive German language program for all learning levels. Courses are non-credit and cost $450. Private instruction is also available.


Japan Society (715-1256, www.japansociety.org) offers 12 levels of Japanese courses, all taught by native Japanese speakers. The hiragana and katakana syllabaries are introduced at the beginning level, and basic kanji instruction starts at the intermediate level. Three intensive kanji courses and two advanced reading courses are also provided. (Fee: $210 or $430)


A private, nonprofit organization, Parliamo Italiano (744-4793; www.parliamo.com) is the largest Italian language school in New York City. Classes are small and conducted only in Italian, using the Lally method developed by Director Franca Pironti Lally. Rates vary from $275-$465. The school also prepares students for Italian-proficiency exams. —Mary Jacobi

••music

Looking to score a film? The 92nd Street Y's "Music for Film" course (415-5500; www.92ndsty.org) surveys scoring theory and its practical applications by providing you with computers, synthesizers, and slick software so you can create musical moods appropriate to the silver screen. Know what I mean? The 12 evening sessions begin February 5. Cost: $395.


New Yorkers new to jazz have plenty of options—clubs, classes, festivals, and more. Evening courses at the Kaufman Center's Lucy Moses School (501-3362; www.ekcc.org) cover harmonic progressions, improvisational theory, stage presence, and everything except soul—which you have anyway, right? The 12-week courses cost $265. The soul? Priceless.


Ever wonder why Third Street Music School (777-3240; www.thirdstreetmusicschool.org) is located on East 11th? Ask that question, among others, during any of the school's sizzling spring classes, which range from clarinet for chitlins to trumpet for teens, and harpsichord for hippies to recorder for rambunctious 70-year-old rock-star wannabes. (The catalog prefers different language.) —Daniel King

••nature

If you're looking to add lavish to a lot or to rejuvenate a garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (718-623-7220; www.bbg.org) can help. Joan and Jim teach you horticultural design you can use, including ways to analyze your site, choose plants, and avoid mistakes. Caring for, talking with, and befriending your botanical buddies is up to you, but horticultural classes are available in March and April, from $193 to $230. Space is limited.


"Ornithology" is a Charlie Parker tune from the 1940s, but it is also the scientific name for the study of birds. Central Park Conservancy (772-0210; www.centralparknyc.org) offers "Discovery Kids" at Belvedere Castle (mid-park at 79th Street) every afternoon except Mondays; free bird-watching is included, along with hiking and other activities. Backpacks include binoculars, guidebooks, maps, and sketching materials. Two pieces of ID are required, and adults must accompany children under 12.


Remember reading about a man named Matt Power who climbed a tree—and lived in it—to save 100 gardens from the auction block? See, not all New Yorkers dismiss the city's natural habitat, and GreenThumb (788-8070; www.greenthumbnyc.org), like Power, works wonders to protect leafy properties. The community gardening program offers educational workshops on how, ethically and effectively, to shield shrub from corporate grub. —Daniel King

••photography

Ever wonder why they take Gursky so seriously? Have you ever stood next to one of his monumental prints?! Take your photographs, blow them up, and watch heads turn—and not just to crane to see the tops. "The Large Scale Print" at the International Center of Photography (857-0001; www.icp.org). Bring portfolio for review.


Lomo. Holga. Diana. Fisher Price. They're all fun to say, and to use. Digital, schmigital—the light-leaks, multiple exposures, questionable framing, and quirky cropping of plastic cameras allows them their almost cult-fave status. For the price of one Leica lens you can buy 200 plastic cameras. Smile! Check out the New School's "Creative Image-Making With a Plastic Camera" (229-5690; www.nsu.newschool.edu).


Picture this: a small, dark room, a slide projector, and a living genius speaking from a podium off to the side. "The Photographers Lecture Series" at ICP (857-0001; www.icp.org) is one of the city's most stellar opportunities to learn from and interact with some of today's most preeminent photographers in what is, in fact, a fairly intimate setting. This season's highlights include Bruce Davidson and Lauren Greenfield. —Jennifer Snow

••religion and spirituality

Trivia: Mulamadhyamakakarika is (a) difficult to pronounce, (b) a Buddhist text, or (c) both. Evening classes at the New School (229-5690; www.nsu.newschool.edu) teach basic Buddhist distinctions between yoga, mysticism, magic, and more. For savvy spiritualists and interested innocents alike. $425 for 13 classes.


Lectures on life, determinism, and existentialism are often free at New York's Theosophical Society (753-3835; ,a href="http://www.theosophy-ny.org">www.theosophy-ny.org), a center for spiritual inquiry. The organization's Quest Bookshop (758-5521) provides fascinating flip-throughs before and after lively discussions on divinity, femininity, masculinity, and more.


In the midst of crafting his most memorable, mindful poems, Robert Hayden adopted the Bahá'í faith. His poems then read like mirrors to humanity, reflecting experience rather than pressuring it for answers. Sunday courses at Manhattan Bahá'í (674-8998) offer children of all religious affiliations opportunities to discuss the nature of collective existence. —Daniel King

••sports

With Manhattan's only indoor sand-volleyball court, Chelsea Piers (336-6000; chelseapiers.com) simulates sunshine while cushioning your feet with "Quicksand" and "Skills and Drills," biweekly courses set to spike your hair and bronze your body. Members can access these and other classes for a $425 initiation fee and $135 monthly fee.


Pan Aqua Diving (736-3483; www.panaquadiving.citysearch.com) offers scuba certification for winter-weary urbanites looking for underwater adventure. Courses divide time between classrooms and pools, and include intensive weekend classes and open-water training dives in New Rochelle and/or Far Rockaway. Costs range from $215-$295 for four or five sessions. Books and equipment cost extra.


Chip away at those winter blues by learning knot tying, belaying, rope management, and anchor setup from professional rock climbers. Central Park Conservancy (348-4867, ext. 10) offers four-session courses January through March for adults looking to tone triceps while scaling walls and, during the final sessions, actual rock. Harnesses and climbing shoes are included in the price. Space is limited. —Daniel King

••writing

While the Dean vs. Jess issue has been resolved (for now), Gilmore Girls could still use some tweaking. "One-Hour TV Drama Writing," a $395 offering from Gotham Writers' Workshop (974-8377; www.writingclasses.com) guides you through the standard industry practice of writing a spec script for a currently running show.


The "Silk Sheets: Writing Erotica" class from the New School's Writing Program (229-5690, www.nsu.newschool.edu) aims to meld the literary with the provocative. Focus is on the short story, with writers such as Anaïs Nin, Nicholson Baker, and J.G. Ballard used for inspiration. Individual projects are encouraged; the course fee is $485.


The Writers Studio (255-7075; www.writerstudio.com) offers fiction writers and poets a supportive workshop environment in which students develop their own style through a series of craft exercises. The school has five progressively demanding levels, and each instructor is specially trained in the studio's unique teaching philosophy. Cost: $380-$455. —Mary Jacobi

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