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ART

Create a portfolio of ghoulish loon figures at the School of Visual Art's course on "Distortion" (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu). Each assignment will explore a new mode of misrepresenting the human body. Bloating, shrinking, and dismembering encouraged.


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    When your latest story (this one about a knight and/or fairy) begins to feel a bit clunky, enroll in Cooper Union's "Calligraphy, the Italic Hand" (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce). After learning the basics in "chancery cursive," you won't even have to read anyone that valiant little tale. Really, just show them how it looks.


    A survey on young and emerging New York artists, Parsons' "Gallery Tour Seminar: Williams- burg, Brooklyn and Beyond" (212-229-5690, parsons.edu/continuing_ed) will equip you with a mini-bank of conversational flourishes. Don't sit silently on the L train, head in a book. Draw attention to yourself! Drop names!Rachel Aviv

    COOKING

    Need to get classy quick? Here's a good way to do it with the bonus of being able to drink in school. NYC Wine Class (212-647-1875, nycwineclass.com) offers cheap "Wine 101" packages, and courses that show you which cheeses to snub at the supermarket.


    The irresistible selection of cakes NYC has to offer makes you feel like a traitor if you don't take part. How about a compromise? Take "Eat Well in the New Year," offered by NYU(212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu), to learn how to fine-tune your judgment when choosing food. Apparently colors are just as important as chemicals, so find out if that means pink cupcakes are OK. Get svelte and indulge.


    At the renowned Tribeca kitchen set in a spacious loft and host to Cooking by the Book (212-966-9199, cookingbythebook.com), food preparation is followed to the letter for private parties of 12 or more. Become an informed connoisseur of the steak or the artichoke, or perhaps find new and exciting ways to employ the arugula in an "oh so chic" kitchen that satisfies the stomach and the ego with its emphasis on personal attention. Janine Armin

    DANCE

    An entirely tutu-free dance space, Djoniba (212-477-3464, djoniba.com) has no interest in delicacy and/or anorexia. While students move through routines in West African, Haitian, and Brazilian dance, a row of drummers pound at the front of the room. Classes run from $13 to $16; physical ineptness encouraged.


    The first same-sex dance program in the country, OUTdancing (646-742-9400, steppingoutstudios.com) offers salsa, swing, fox-trot, cha-cha, and rumba for lesbians, gays, and transsexuals. Students choose to lead or follow, regardless of gender. Experience—and partners—unnecessary.


    Perched over the Hard Rock Café, Broadway Dance Center (212-582-9304, bwydance.com) is deeply indebted to its pop-feverish surroundings, teaching hip-hop, break dancing, and "musical theater" to more than 5,000 dancers a week. Past students include Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, and J.Lo. Classes are $15 apiece. Rachel Aviv

    DRAMA

    If you're tired of endless auditions and want to get back to the texts, the New School's course on Tennessee Williams and Samuel Beckett (212-229-5690, nsu.newschool.edu/), beginning March 14, is a good place to start. Plus you'll finally have a good excuse to scream "Stellaaaaaa!" over and over again.


    A class on voice-over techniques at NYU (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) might the best way to find yourself billed with an A-list star on a major film release, if you don't mind settling for Pixar. Of course, there's no guarantee you'll end up a superhero like Sarah Vowell, or a fish à la Angelina Jolie.


    Sick of seeing reheated one-man shows on the boards? Take a class on playwriting at Columbia (212-854-3774, ce.columbia.edu) and reinvent your life in an edgy Off-Broadway show. It can't be any worse than what's out there already, right? Classes start on January 18. Gautam Hans


    FASHION

    With knitting taking the gold two years running in the hipster hobby category, Parsons (212-229-5690, parsons.edu/continuing_ed) is on top of the ancestral trend and will train you in the next big thing with classes in "Hand Embroidery and Appliqué Beading." BYOB will have new meaning after you enroll in this class.


    Get with the pro-gram: F.I.T.'s "Learn to Sew Like a Pro I" (212-217-3334, fitnyc.edu) shows the tricks of the fashion trade for those who are all thumbs and no Lagerfeld. Make the most of your end-of-the-line fabrics by using techniques from the ages you never thought mattered.


    You'll be in stitches with this all-you-need-to-know-about-knitting course, "Knitting for Pleasure," at F.I.T. (212-217-3334, fitnyc.edu). So kick back and knit—with these skills, you and yours will be warm for the price of a post-Christmas Yule log. Janine Armin

    FILM

    Contrary to what Mick might have said decades ago, it seems that time is very rarely on our side; it's getting so that even budding filmmakers have to draw the soul of wit as their bottom line. The School of Visual Arts' "The Big Story in the Short Film" (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu/ce) will walk you through all the shortcuts, teaching you how to say what you want and get it out in less time than it takes Paul Thomas Anderson to reach the end of the first act.


    Can't tell McCabe from Brewster McCloud? The New School's "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror: Robert Altman's Cinema of the 1970s" (212-229-5600, nsu.newschool.edu) offers an in-depth look at the man who defined the auteur in one of American cinema's most fruitful periods. The class will examine a wide breadth of Altman's oeuvre, from the usual suspects (M*A*S*H, Nashville) to the dark horses (his early work in television). Popeye, sadly, will not be discussed.


    Everybody knows that the post-movie confab can be just as much fun as the movie itself (or, in the case of certain offenders, much more so). NYU offers to bring your game up from Michael Medved to Pauline Kael in just a couple of weeks with "How to View and Talk About Movies Like a Critic" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu). Impress your friends with discussions of "mise-en-scène" and "diegetic elements" and, um, "cinematography." Chris Tamarri

    FINANCE

    Malcolm "The Tipping Point"Gladwell brings his sociocultural-business guru savvy to the Learning Annex to instruct you on "How to Flood Any Business With Customers" (212-371-0280, learningannex.com). Coming on the heels of his new book, Blink, about the wisdom of making snap decisions, the class should fill up quickly with people who decided to attend just that night. Avoid the indecision and pay $19.99 ahead of time for his two-hour seminar on February 1.


    You've done the temp thing, you've tried the unemployed life, and you're getting sick of ramen. If selling out's sounding good, why not join the other little piggies and earn an MBA? Ranked 14th for its part-time program by U.S. News & World Report, Baruch's Zicklin School of Business (646-312-1300, zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu) is the country's largest B-school, but it comes with a CUNY-sized tuition and an outsize rep—making it a bargain for such a potentially lucrative investment of time, energy, and (especially) soul. There are campus tours for prospective students on January 14 and 28. Register now and you'll have all spring and summer to dwell on the decision you've made. Take comfort, though; as you'll learn, everyone has their price.


    Everyone's got a no-lose investment strategy, and CNNfn.com and Money contributor Lewis Schiff is no exception. Free up the evening of February 23, head on over to Makor(212-601-1000, 92y.org), plop down your $25, and take notes on Schiff's "investing technique that returned more than 35 percent in 2003 and only takes 15 minutes each month to prepare." Now that's the kind of investment in investing that anyone can make. John Giuffo


    INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

    A new Homeland Security head doesn't mean that immigration issues are going to get resolved anytime soon, so the New School's course on the "Anthropology of Migration and Globalization" (212-229-5690, nsu.newschool.edu) will keep you appraised on the latest developments regarding gender, diaspora studies, and transnationalism. Classes start January 27.


    If the constant shifts in American foreign policy make you feel adrift, "Intro to International Politics" at Columbia (212-854-9699, ce.columbia.edu) will catch you up on the basic theories on why exactly we like to annoy every other country in the world. Classes start January 18.


    Tired of having to pay $10 every time you want a latte in Berlin? Learn why the euro is pounding the dollar in NYU's "International Corporate Finance" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu), starting February 8 or 9. Maybe you can't influence the exchange rate, but you can at least figure out how to afford a European half-caf. Gautam Hans

    LANGUAGE

    If you're tired of having to communicate with words—or if the cold weather is freezing your ungloved fingers—consider the New School's introductory course in sign language, starting January 25 (212-229-5690, nsu.newschool.edu). It's the perfect way to warm your frostbitten limbs and keep your friends guessing about what you're really thinking.


    Regret that you've forgotten Spanish after four years of it in high school? NYU offers a refresher "immersion weekend" on February 26 and 27 (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu): 13 hours of intensive learning designed to finally make you understand the difference between ser and estar. Similar programs are available in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Russian.


    Introductory Japanese classes at the Japan Society, starting January 24 (212-832-1155, japansociety.org), can let you live out your Lost in Translation fantasy and one-up Bill and Scarlett by knowing what's going on in Tokyo. Professionals need not worry: The textbook, Japanese for Busy People, lets you work the class around your life. Gautam Hans

    MUSIC

    Sooner or later you have to ask yourself, Am I the brooding, musically proficient sort or more of the pretty-and-vacant, stage-front-and-center ilk? For the former, there's the Piano School of NYC (212-386-2274, pianoschoolofnyc.com), and for the latter the New York City Guitar School (646-485-7244, nycguitarschool.com), both of which offer a variety of lessons on how to grind their respective axes. (Note: Jerry Lee Lewis and Simon and Garfunkel types also welcome.)


    It's not generally regarded as very rock and roll to actually be able to read music; even Sir Paul wrote his hits with the Beatles mostly illiterate of musical notation. But when the Ramones sang of a "Rock 'n' Roll High School," they could've been talking about the honors class of the Kaufman Center's Lucy Moses School (212-501-3303, kaufman-center.org/lucy.htm), which offers instruction in sight singing for various levels of proficiency.


    Party like it's 1997 with NYU's "Scratch: The Art of the DJ" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu). The eight-week class offers instruction from members of the Scratch DJ Academy—co-founded by the late Jam Master Jay—and features a mash-up of written study with literal hands-on training, as well as promised appearances by "celebrity DJs." Chris Tamarri

    NATURE

    Dr. Merryl Kafka, curator of education at the New York Aquarium and an Alfred Kinsey for the life aquatic, takes a peek under the sheets of the aquarium's resident hedonists. Evidently, undersea animals have kinkier sex and are more promiscuous than Tom Wolfe's co-eds, and the "Sex in the Sea" program has been designed to give adults (21 and older only) a chance to meet other singles to try out the mating habits of the single seal. The program is on February 12 and costs $34 for non-members.


    Tired of watching all your beloved plants die as winter deepens? The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (718-623-7200, bbg.org) comes to the rescue with a plethora of classes on making that home garden work. And even if you can't get a single petunia to survive, they also offer a class on designing funeral and sympathy arrangements, so you can pay your respects with the flowers bought from the bodega across the street.


    New Yorkers with telescopes that have been gathering dust since Christmas '89 can now get a glance at the astros considered imperceptible by layers of smog and that Thoroughly Modern Millie sign with the Hayden Planetarium's course on urban stargazing (212-769-5200, amnh.org). The class meets four Wednesdays, January 19 through February 9, from 6:30 to 8:30, and costs $64 ($48 for members, students, and seniors). David Blaylock

    PHOTOGRAPHY

    For the person who has everything, including an absurd amount of photos of indistinguishable buildings, sidewalks, and sunsets: Learn how to translate your random collection into a body of work in "Travel Photography: Making It Work" at the International Center of Photography (212-857-0001, icp.org). You'll also get helpful hints on what to pack on your exotic trips—and how to get respect from the pros when you get back.


    Talk shop at Parsons (212-229-5690, parsons.edu). For the digitally inclined, "Photoshop Basics" will show you how to work it on the screen in five easy sessions. Discover what "intuitive interface" means while improving upon important skills like tweaking and manipulation.


    Serious photographers and hapless hopefuls come together at the School of Visual Arts (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu/ce), which offers a range of photography workshops at all levels. Class presentations will allow you to showcase your fragile art and have it judged by people who know more than you. Janine Armin

    RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

    Have an out-of-body experience without the caffeine jitters or hangover lethargy. Chakrasambara Buddhist Center (212-924-6706, meditationinnewyork.org) offers a variety of classes that promise to seriously refocus your energy and balance those runaway chakras. Achieve the happiness and well-rounded satisfaction of the burly Buddha himself.


    If your diet consists of items with 2006 expiration dates and your evening mantra lacks focus, take NYU's "Whole Health I" (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) for cost-effective ways to look young and "tap into your own personal power." Save bank by becoming your own self-help book.


    The New York Open Center(212-219-2527, opencenter.org) has an open-door policy to self-help practices from every corner of the world. From Taoist theory to Jewish teachings of the afterlife, you are sure to find the culturally appropriate practice for you. At a not too expensive price, pick a country you like, go forth, and let the ethnic-region-of-choice healing begin. Janine Armin

    SPORTS

    For i-bankers looking to productively unleash cubicle-induced fury, Church Street Boxing Gym's four-week Introductory Boxing course (212-571-1333, nyboxinggym.com) teaches anyone the basic skills involved in good punching. Blaring hip-hop, shrieky time bells, and the sight of definitive nonbeginners provoke growlings of inspiration—as well as deep fear. Cost: $199.


    A lovely pastime for unathletic white men, pétanque is best described as a cross between bowling, golf, and stone skipping. The player attempts to toss the boule (ball) as close as possible to the but (another ball, this time smaller). The excitement is breathtaking. Try it out at Bryant Park with La Boule New Yorkaise (212-529-4204, labouleny.com, bryantpark.org/amenities/activities.php); if nothing else, classes are free.


    Run mostly by activist women, the Center for Anti-Violence Education (718-788-1775, cae-bklyn.org) holds women/transgender-only classes in karate, tai chi, and general self-defense. Instructors teach "nonviolence" while giving tips on how to take out bratty opponents. Fees are on a sliding scale. Rachel Aviv

    WRITING

    "The unexamined life is not worth living," said Socrates. "And besides, who ever got rich and famous by not talking about themselves?" He might be dead, but that doesn't mean his point's invalid. The New School's "Writing to Save Your Life" (212-229-5600, nsu.newschool.edu) will teach you how to turn the unexamined into the amazing, addressing such issues as "developing your style" and "giving yourself permission."


    With movie franchises like Spider-Man, X-Men, and the soon-returning Batman heating up movie theaters, you could say that comic books are the new actual books. NYU's "Writing Comics and Graphic Novels" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) provides comprehensive instruction on creating comics, from both the creative and commercial perspective, for those of you looking to get on the bandwagon or relive fantasies of taking Jean Grey back to your Danger Room.


    After having labored over your Great American Graphic Memoir, it might seem that your work is over. But why spend so much time crafting what's inside the book, only to ignore what's going on outside? Cooper Union's class on "Handbound Books" (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce) will give you all the basics on getting in and out of a bind in a variety of styles, from clothbound multi-sectioned books to "Japanese box."Chris Tamarri

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