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Do you imagine yourself the next Mark Rothko, or perhaps Georgia O'Keefe (hey, someone has to take up the vagina-as-flower mantle)? They both studied at the Art Students League of New York. To get your color fields just right, you might consider a course in Painting, Color Design, or Composition, or you might perfect your floral offerings with Painting From Life, Still Life and Landscape.

Food and Drink

Medieval and Renaissance cookbooks include recipes for sea otter, sheep's penis, cat, and a disquisition on the nutritional benefits of hedgehog. But lecturer and cookbook author Francine Segan believes there's a lot of wisdom to be gained from historic cookery, especially as it relates to cheese. In her History of Cheese course, at Murray's Cheese, students will learn the origins of this ancient foodstuff and taste cheeses made from age-old methods.

Stitch this: FIT students learn design.
photo: FIT
Stitch this: FIT students learn design.

Wine production dates back to the Neolithic period, beginning in the Near East around 8500 B.C. Neolithic man may have enjoyed wine, but he never had to stand flummoxed amid shelves and shelves of potables or hopelessly scan a multi- page wine list. Cue NYC Wine Class and its one-night offering Wine 101. Students taste a dozen wines, accompanied by Murray's cheeses, and "leave with a keen sense of what makes wines different along with a better understanding of what you like."

Let's say toast presents something of a challenge and a bowl of cold cereal begins and ends your culinary repertoire. Sure, Cap'n Crunch is a delicacy, but there's a whole gastronomic world out there, one you can begin to taste with Cooking 101: The Course for Absolute Beginners at the Institute of Culinary Education. In three classes, you'll go from zilch to shrimp cocktail, tomato-and-mozzarella salad, chocolate fondue, blueberry fruit crisp, pasta primavera, and chocolate pudding cake.

For Children

Apparently it's never too early for serenity—or improved musculoskeletal flexibility. For parents who want their tots to experience the joys of the cobra, plow, and warrior poses, Citibabes offers Mini Yoga, a class in traditional yoga poses and breathing techniques for three-to-five-year-olds. We can't imagine them laying still for Shava-asana, but we're sure they'll excel at "Happy Baby" pose.

When not donning mermaid outfits, singing in bathhouses, or inspiring a very delicious variety of Two Boots Pizza, Bette Midler also found time in her schedule to establish the New York Restoration Project, designed to help preserve and conserve New York City's parks and gardens. For school-age children, the NYRP also offers instruction in Urban Ecology, Garden Science, Aquatic Science, and Oyster Farming (!).

If during the impressionable ages of eight to 12 I had attended the Bronx Zoo's Working for Wildlife: The Bronx Zoo Guide to Careers, there might be one less journalist in the world. Horrors! And yet students may very well enjoy pizza while they learn about possible animal-oriented jobs in such fields as animal behavior, zookeeping, conservation biology, and zoo veterinary medicine. If only playing with tigers compared to compiling education listings.


Let's say you can already converse in those appealing gutturals, but you'd like to take your knowledge of the German language and culture a step further. Deutsches Haus at NYU offers a few courses, in German, for the proficient and motivated student. Beginning in January, students—or should we say studenten?—can take either Schriftstellerinnen der Gegenwart (Authoresses of the Present) or Berlin: Now and Then.

We are not, to the best of our knowledge, turning Japanese, we really think so, but if we were, we would doubtless spend more time at the Japan Society, which this year celebrates its centenary. In the past 100 years, it has strengthened U.S.-Japanese relations via its performances, lectures, and museum displays. It also offers a dozen language classes and several others in reading, writing, and culture. This spring's offerings include everything from Japanese 1-A (using the textbook Japanese for Busy People, natch), Shodo I: Calligraphy, and Learn to Read Katakana.

Sure, you can direct a taxi driver, book a hotel room, and order a passable red to accompany your boeuf bourguignon, but perhaps you would like to improve and enlarge your schoolgirl or schoolboy French. In addition to regular language courses, the Alliance Française also offers classes and workshops in Yoga in French, Business French, French Through Song, Cook in French, and French Slang. Super-chic!

Crafts and Hobbies

All New Yorkers love to bitch, but not all of us know how to stitch, so there's plenty of people eligible for the 92nd Street Y's Beginning Knitting course. While needle exchange is often a controversial policy, this course will provide students with all relevant materials and start them on knitting projects. And that's nothing to scarf at.

We've spent many a night on the tiles, but very few nights playing with tiles. We could remedy this if we drank a lot less and took a beginner or intermediate Mah Jonng Class at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Some credit Confucius with the invention of this great game, others date its origin to the 19th century. At any rate, we're told it's a highly habit-forming and engaging game—upon the outcome of which large sums of money may be bet. Oh goody, another addiction.

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