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Dude, have you ever noticed that Times Square looks like something straight out of Blade Runner? Whoa. If the freaky prescience of Philip K. Dick blows your mind, you might want to check out "Dystopian Cinema" at NYU (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) every Tuesday starting May 25. Watch classics of the genre, including Alphaville, Fahrenheit 451, Mad Max, and Rollerball (presumably not the L.L. Cool J remake).

Sofia Coppola is the second Coppola to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. She's also the third woman. What gives? Why are there so many more women in front of the camera than behind it? And what does "to-be-looked-at-ness" mean, anyway? Learn all about the complex role of women in film at NYU's "Women in the Cinema" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu), which explores the theory and practice of the fair sex in film. [Izzy Grinspan]


FINANCE

Getting rich relatively quick, with relatively little effort, is the real American dream. But in these uncertain times, is there a foolproof method for playing the market with your money? Absolutely, according to Chandan Sengupta, author of The Only Proven Road to Investment Success, who will offer tips on "Winning the Loser's Game of Investing" at the 92nd St Y(212.415.5500, 92y.org). Just don't tell your friends what you learn!

The current economy isn't exactly encouraging, but if you've always dreamed of being your own boss, NYU's "Starting Your Own Business on a Shoestring" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) could help make it happen. According to the course description, anybody with ample entrepreneurial spirit, a little capital, and a lot of know-how can turn a dream into a lucrative reality. You have to admit, your name does sound better when you add "founder and CEO."

When you're a freelancer, every pre-tax penny counts, and according to the New School (800-319-4321, nsu.newschool.edu), you may be giving away more than the law requires. Take the one-night course "Tax Tips for Free-Lance Writers, Photographers, and Artists" to learn some (legal) corner-cutting strategies before you get started on next year's return. Imagine how much ramen you could buy with the money you'll save! [Mollie Wilson]


INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

Perhaps, as Billy Joel observed, we didn't start the fire, but that doesn't excuse us from learning diplomatic lessons from history. NYU's "International Relations in the Post-World War II Era" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) will examine world politics since we got out of the WW II frying pan, covering fun topics like the Cold War, the Vietnam War, South American upheaval, and the many Middle Eastern crises that got us into our current mess.

Whether you're starting a job overseas or simply lost in Chinatown, your success depends on knowing how to communicate with the locals. Students in Baruch College's "Cross-Cultural Awareness in the 21st Century" (646-312-5000, caps.baruch.cuny.edu) will study the origins and customs of major world cultures, then go out and practice interacting with foreigners socially and professionally. Remember, they're just as afraid of you as you are of them.

Museums divide works of art into distinct galleries and wings based on provenance, but in real life the boundaries aren't always so clear. NYU's "Art Across Cultures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) examines the relationships between the many different cultures whose great artistic works are now housed in one big building on the edge of Central Park. For example: The Temple of Dendur used to be in Egypt, covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics, but now it's in New York City, covered in English-language graffiti. Funny how things change. [Mollie Wilson]


LANGUAGE

Ever dream of riding gondolas in Venice? Would you also like to be able to ask for a gondola ride in Italian without turning as red as marinara? Take NYU's "Italian for Beginners" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) and gain a basic knowledge of the musical language.

Whether you have to land that big, important client in Tokyo or were just really into Lost in Translation, NYU's "Three-Week Intensive Japanese I & II" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) will give you the language skills to get the job done. Classes run June 14 through July 2.

Go beyond the standard offerings and go eastward to Eastern Europe. Columbia's "Intensive Elementary Hungarian" (212-854-9699, columbia.edu) will teach the basics of grammar and vocab, giving you a practical command of the language. [Jennifer Holmes]


MUSIC

Looking to make music that's a bit less formulaic than Britney's and Christina's? Express your own unique voice and experiment at the School for Improvisational Music(212-631-5882, schoolforimprov.org). Their intensive workshop runs May 15 through 23 and costs $400. Application deadline is April 17.

I know that you have a guitar gathering dust in your apartment. Musika (212-614-6800, musikalessons.com) will give you one-on-one instruction to get you playing that instrument without the embarrassment of admitting how long ago you bought it.

Thought that the accordion was just for dorky old men in bow ties? Well Carmen Carrozza, classical accordion master at the Northern Westchester Music School(914-962-7222, petosa.com/carrozza), will show you that the accordion can be cool. Get your polka on! [Jennifer Holmes]

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