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If you're a self-styled cineaste, Columbia University's School of General Studies, its program for returning and nontraditional students, offers several film courses taught by a remarkable faculty. Beginning in January, Andrew Sarris will lead a seminar in film noir, Philip Lopate offers "Writing Film Criticism," and Richard Peña, director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, teaches "International Film History" and "Topics in World Cinema: The Arab World and Africa."

Food and Drink

Thank you, Trader Joe's, for recession-friendly three-buck chuck! But should the economic climate improve, would-be oenophiles may wish to expand their horizons. When that happy day arrives, Chelsea's NYC Wine Class is ready. Their signature class is the one-night Wine 101, but they also offer boozy tutoring via "Regional Wine Explorations," "Special Food & Wine Seminars," and the hangover-inducing "16 Wines, 8 Cheeses, 1 Night."

Though it doesn't yet emanate the foodie aura of Berkeley, lots of things are growing in Brooklyn. If you're interested in discovering how to turn neighborhood produce into dinner-table fare, you could enroll in a course at the Brooklyn Kitchen. Each month, the Kitchen drafts local restaurateurs and artisans to teach a tasty curriculum. Tom Mylan of Marlow & Sons is the butchery instructor; Bob McClure of McClure's Pickles teaches pickling and canning; Ben Van Leeuwen is your ice cream professor.


Longtime Staten Island resident Jacques Marchais never visited the Himalayas, but that didn't stop her from acquiring a noteworthy collection of Tibetan art and artifacts. So she constructed the Jacques Marchais Museum, resembling a Himalayan monastery. Even the Dalai Lama approved! Should you find relaxing by its fish and lotus ponds insufficiently tranquil, on Saturdays, the museum offers classes in meditation and Tai Chi.

Being able to sling one's leg up around one's ears seems sufficient inducement, but yoga can strengthen bone density, improve circulation, relax the mind, and help maintain a healthful body weight. Atmananda in Soho specializes in Vinyasa yoga and, for the budget-minded, offers a "pay-what-you-wish" community class nearly every weekday. The center also presents deep-tissue massage, Thai yoga massage, ear candling, astrology, and nutrition counseling.


The science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once opined, "Don't explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to a virgin." But if you're longing to know the facts of technological life, you'll need to learn those ones and zeros somewhere. Berkeley College offers a number of introductory classes in computing among the many courses at its midtown campus: "Computer Applications" eases students into Windows and Word, while "Fundamentals of Information Technology" introduces students to basic concepts and terminology.

Perhaps you're the sort of weekend warrior who spends Monday to Friday at your desk, but longs to spend Saturday and Sunday . . . back at your desk, improving your computer design skills. If so, the continuing education program at the School of Visual Arts can fulfill your raw, feral need. Their weekend workshops include instruction in such programs as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, and Dreamweaver.


Chinese, like many Asian languages, has a reputation for being difficult to learn. But more than one billion people have mastered it, so why not you? The China Institute, the oldest school of its kind, has more than 75 years of practice in educating New Yorkers in written and spoken Chinese. Current courses at its Upper East Side site include introductory Cantonese; introductory, intermediate, and advanced Mandarin; and classes designed for heritage learners, fast-track learners, and those looking to improve reading or conversation skills. 

Nordic countries have much to recommend them—progressive social policies, cozy sweaters, and many varieties of herring. If you've developed a special curiosity regarding these proud, cold nations, you might consider instruction in their native tongues. The American Scandinavian Foundation, in collaboration with New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, offers instruction in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Those seeking courses in Finnish or Icelandic can contact the Foundation directly.,


According to a legend told by the Tsimshian tribe of the Pacific Northwest, the porcupine's quills render him the most feared of all beasts. Human animals can get their own back at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan this November, in a special hands-on workshop devoted to Porcupine Quillwork, a form of embroidery that makes use of quills donated from departed porcupines. Sioux artist D. Joyce Kitson leads the workshop.

Queens has much to recommend it—its diversity, its cuisine, and those nifty leftover structures from the World's Fair. One doesn't tend to visit that storied borough for its agriculture, but the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park consists of the city's oldest continually farmed tract of land, and offers tuition in farm-appropriate activities. Those who seek comfort (or a comforter) against cold winter nights might consider their class in quilting instruction.


As a New Yorker, you've likely learned to take it on the chin, figuratively . . . so why not learn it literally? Church Street Boxing, "New York's only fully equipped private boxing gym," offers introductory boxing courses four times per week. Budding pugilists will work with the heavy bag, speed bag, jump ropes, and double-end bag. Now there's a workout that packs a punch.

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