In a culinary rut? Dave Ramirez’s “Hot and Spicy Foods From Around the World” will re-inject a little spice into your diet. Taught at the Institute of Culinary Education (212-847-0770, iceculinary.com), all you need is this one session (August 8) to rekindle your passion for all things hot. Play with multicultural dishes such as shrimp pili-pili, chicken vindaloo, and of course, the classic beer-buddy: jalapeño poppers.
Ever panicked in the produce aisle at the sheer variety of it all? Janeen Sarlin (212-517-8514, sarlincookingwithclass.com) may just be the answer to your problems. Her two-day, small-group course “Fresh From the Garden Dinner” lets students get a grip and face the summer squash with confidence.
We know it’s bathing-suit season, but you look a little carb-starved. Grandma’s Secrets (212-862-8117, grandmasecrets.com) bakery would love to help. They’ll start by re-introducing dessert into your diet with their pie-making class. And you don’t even have to leave your home! An instructor will come to your kitchen and teach you and up to three friends how to make crust and two pies of your choice. Elizabeth Lawler
If you need to fight off some residual anger after being cast as a tree again, sign up for the New School‘s “Solo Theater” (212-229-5690, nsu.newschool.edu), where you’ll be the best (and only) star of the show. Forget about counting lines: They’re all yours!
Want to be an actor? New York is the place to be, and “Acting 101: The ABCs” will teach you techniques to get over that old devil stage fright, to begin with. The folks at NYU (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) will arm you with the basic training you’ll need to “bring a playwright’s words to life,” and survive all those auditions.
NYU‘s “Poetry Slam!!! Great Performing in 3 Minutes or Less” (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) allows you to bitch as much as you want, in the time allotted. Give the performance of a lifetime in the blink (OK, maybe a few blinks) of an eye, learning how “word, emotion, gesture, and voice can merge into a powerful stage presence.” Be a minute man, and wear it on your sleeve.
Whip out that whoopee cushion and let ‘er rip at NY Goofs’ Sixth Annual Ultimate Clown School (212-591-0028, nygoofs.com) from August 9 through 22. The first week focuses on character, while the second focuses on developing material. Laughter not included. Clotilde Hainline
In just two Saturday afternoons, F.I.T.‘s “Star Quality Vintage Shopping” (212-217-3334, fitnyc.suny.edu) will have you dressing better than both Hepburns combined. Your kickass wardrobe won’t be found in the local mall, or on Madison Avenue for that matter. So when Joan Rivers asks you where you got it, simply reply, “It’s vintage, bey-atch.”
I am not about to sit in a chair for 15 hours to knit a scarf the width of my pinky, only to realize that I messed up and it looks like crap. Join me surreptitiously at “Beginners’ Machine Knitting,” and produce enough sweaters (that’s right, sweaters) to last a lifetime. F.I.T. (212-217-3334, fitnyc.suny.edu) specifically promises to fool those suckers with “garments with a hand-knit look.”
Where do the stars go when they need ice? Forget Jacob the Jeweler. After taking “Collectable Jewelry I” at F.I.T. (212-217-3334, fitnyc.suny.edu), your celly will be blowing up. Create the “high fashion necklaces and bracelets” of your dreams using “pearls, crystals and semi-precious stones.” Don’t forget your shades; all that bling will have you wearing sunglasses indoors. Clotilde Hainline
Picture yourself one year from now: fixer of leaks, provider of keys, and proud owner of a stylish brownstone. Neighborhood Housing Services (212-519-2500, nhsnyc.org) trains you to be the landlord you never thought you’d want to be. Courses are offered year-round and focus on everything from analyzing your taxes to choosing your realtor to opening finicky locks.
If everyone else in New York is silently and subtly self-promoting, you might as well. NYU‘s “Self-Promotion for Introverts” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) will show you the ingredients to a “marketing mix” that will enable you to woo your “target audience.” Expect to excel in all sections of the pie chart—job, friends, love. All this with only minimal charge to your pride.
Now that you’ve figured out how to promote yourself, learn how to promote your favorite hobby with the Learning Annex‘s “17 Businesses You Can Start in Your Home for Under $1000” (212-371-0280, learningannex.com). Turn that contraption you made into a moneymaking scheme. The class is offered September 22 and October 20. Come ready with ideas! Rachel Aviv
Guaranteed to “turn on your lover,” the Learning Annex‘s three-part class on belly dancing (212-371-0280, learningannex.com) helps you master the art of seduction. Taught by Altagracia (even her name breathes sexiness), the class will get you using muscles you never knew you had. Start your training on August 6, 13, or 20. Only women allowed.
Capoeira was first practiced by Angolan slaves in Brazil who disguised their combat exercises as playful dance. Unfortunately, Brazilian slaveholders were fooled only briefly, and the technique—a mixture of music, acrobatics and self-defense—was illegal until barely 70 years ago. Celebrate your freedom at the Capoeira Angola Center in Chelsea (212-989-6975, panix.com/~tishotto/capoeira). $15 classes offered daily except Saturday.
Have rhinoceros hooves but still want to be a ballerina? Zena Rommett Floor-Barre Technique requires no slippers—no standing, for that matter. The muscle-lengthening technique is conducted almost entirely on the floor. Rommett teaches classes at all levels at Steps (212-874-2410, stepsnyc.com), Ballet Arts (212-582-3350), and Dance Space (212-625-8369, dancespace.com). For getting a workout while remaining stationary, it’s better than Pilates. Rachel Aviv
The Gotham Writers’ Workshop (212-974-8377, writing-classes.com) offers a one-day intensive screenwriting workshop that might be the first step to Oscar gold. Even if you’re not looking for a Golden Globe, there’s always the chance of reliving the Robert McKee scenes from Adaptation. The workshop runs from noon to 7 p.m. on August 8 (a 10-week version is also available). Cost: $125 plus a $25 registration fee.
NYU (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) offers a class for those who would rather write about films than write them, as William Wolf continues his Movie Previews course, with screenings of upcoming releases (last year’s slate included Girl With a Pearl Earring and 21 Grams). It meets every Saturday from October 23 through December 18, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost: $195.
With our attention focused on the Middle East, we forget that there is an entire segment of the world in just as much jeopardy and turmoil as the deserts of Iraq. NYU‘s (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) fall course entitled “Crises Across Asia” explores the political and economic links that have enabled nuclear proliferation, terrorist activity, and other crises in this region.
The Arab-Israeli conflict: Though we have some of our brightest minds working on the issue, it seems impossible to resolve. Columbia‘s (212-854-9699, columbia.edu) fall course “From Herzl to Hamas: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in Its Historical Context” takes a look at this divisive topic. Students refer to both primary and secondary source materials, as well as fiction, to help unravel this tangled web.
Money makes the world go round—and you can barely balance your checkbook. You clearly need a crash course in world economics, so turn to NYU‘s (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) “Introduction to International Business and Finance.” In addition to learning about the international monetary system and exchange rates, you’ll find out just how those complicated principles affect foreign trade. Remember: If an entire nation can develop a financial plan, so can you. Elizabeth Lawler
We may live in the freedom fries/toast era, but French is still the language of diplomacy—it will always be très chic. Baruch College (646-312-5000, caps.baruch.cuny.edu) offers a 14-session immersion course starting August 18, with the stated goal of helping those “travel to a foreign country” (a/k/a those who want to order a café au lait with a minimum of humiliation).
Get back to your linguistic roots with an old-school Latin class at Columbia. The classics department offers elementary Latin for students who don’t know their genitive from their accusative. Get up to speed with this intensive study of grammar and reading of simple prose and poetry (212-854-9699, columbia.edu). Classes start September 7 and run through the fall.
Learn a language without saying a word. Baby Fingers (212-874-5978, mybabyfingers.com) seeks to build communication between parents and deaf, hard-of-hearing, and even hearing children by teaching ASL through song. In the “Mommy & Me” sign language and music course, babies, toddlers, and their caregivers will develop their vocabulary and have some tuneful fun along the way. Fall sessions start after September 20. Elizabeth Lawler
Wanna be a jukebox hero? It’s going to take more than one guitar . . . lesson, that is. Don’t fret: The New York City Guitar School (646-485-7244, nycguitarschool.com) has the remedy. With a variety of instructional courses, NYCGS will have you rocking out. Start looking for that beat-up six string, and you’ll be well on your way.
You’re not a kid anymore, and maybe it’s time to take another crack at those piano lessons that Mom and Dad were always bugging you to practice for. The Piano School of NYC (212-386-2274, pianoschoolofnyc.com) is just the place for you to conjure up all of those memories buried deep within your unconscious.
Dust off your larynx, and get ready to belt out some tunes. The Kaufman Center’s Lucy Moses School (212-501-3360, kaufman-center.org) will help you train your voice to be as angelic as it should be. You’ll learn proper breathing techniques along with vocal exercises, and discover the inner muse that’s been dying to come out all of these years. Jonathan Scott
The Central Park Conservancy (212-772-0210, centralparknyc.org) has a program dedicated to helping New Yorkers learn about the animals and plants cohabiting the island with them. The free, hands-on exhibit is coupled with kits on bird-watching in the Central Park woodlands. The exhibit is open from 10 to 5 at the Belvedere Castle (79th Street Transverse Road).
Farther north in Central Park, the Conservancy (212-860-1370, centralparknyc.org) offers a look around the North Woods, originally designed to reproduce the terrain of the Adirondacks. This free walking tour begins at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (110th Street between Fifth and Lenox avenues) Classes begin August 8.
Aquatic Adventures at the New York Aquarium (718-265-3448, nyaquarium.com) gives kids a chance to get closer to the marine life through behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium and a beach stroll to identify the signs of ocean life. Students ages six through 11 take the course for four days, and those 12 through 14 stay a fifth day (at this level, they have a chance to speak to trainers and see the research labs). David Blaylock
It might not matter to Michael Jackson if you’re black or white, but it does to MV Photo Labs (212-929-3036, mvlabs.com), which offers a three-day fine-printing workshop monthly starting in late October. Beginning with a Friday night reception, the course runs all day on Saturday and Sunday. You’ll learn techniques for working in a darkroom, properly exposing negatives, and developing black-and-white prints. Bring your camera and three rolls, and prepare to print some photos in the Saturday sun.
Do you look fat in those pants? How am I supposed to know—I’m just the guy writing this blurb. Odds are, you probably do. But you don’t have to anymore—at least not in your pictures. After you take the School of Visual Arts‘ (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu) photo-retouching class, you can say goodbye to Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny, and the gang. You’ll learn how to truly make yourself flawless. Now, all you need to find is a course on ethics.
The whole world’s becoming digital—shouldn’t your education? The International Center of Photography (212-857-0001, icp.org) offers a wide array of courses, including classes that focus on digital photography. Welcome to the era of the microchip. Your watch, your wife, your world: all digital. Well, maybe not your wife. Jonathan Scott
Specially designed for those plagued by free-floating neuroses, the Chakrasambara Buddhist Center (212-924-6706, meditationinnewyork.org/new-york-meditation-class.php) is offering a series of courses this summer on “Transforming Painful Emotions.” Classes include “Uprooting Resentment” (August 5), “Healing the Sickness of Guilt” (August 12), “Doubt and Faith” (August 19), and “Pride, Confidence and Insecurity” (August 26). Each class is $14—not so bad for inner peace.
The Gnostic Gospels say that Jesus had a twin, slept with several women, and once, when he was angry, turned a crowd of children into goats. In the last 2,000 years, the ancient documents have been passionately renounced. NYU‘s “Gnostic Gospels: Truth or Heresy” (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) will help you assess whether the renunciation was valid: Are the documents nothing more than fiction? Or does Jesus have more to him than we thought?
For “personal attention not commonly found outside of Asia,” go to Palyul Changchub Dargyeling Center for Tibetan Buddhist Study (646-831-9804, newyork.palyul.org). Meditation classes are taught according to the teachings of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, founder of Tibetan Buddhism, and firm believer in the emptiness of the world. Rachel Aviv
So you’ve been looking to impress that fair maiden uptown. Or maybe you simply want to get medieval on some friends in Brooklyn. Well, you’ll have to know how to use a sword first, and for $100, the Fencers Club (212-807-6947, fencersclub.com) offers five one-hour group classes that’ll have you swinging a foil like Don Quixote in no time.
Looking for that good ol’ inner peace? Or just dying to kick some ass? Chu Tai Chi (212-221-6110, chutaichi.com) is the school for you. Master Chu offers a series of classes that will teach you meditation and physical health along with fighting technique, depending on your preference. This, perhaps, is one of few places where you could find Jean-Claude Van Damme and the Dalai Lama standing around the watercooler together.
Hook some trail mix onto your carabiner, and get ready to climb. Because with $15 instructional classes and ladies’ and date-night specials, there’s no better place to go rock climbing than the Chelsea Piers Field House (212-336-6500, chelseapiers.com). All the gear is provided. Take beginner, medium, or advanced routes as you attempt to scale the 30-foot wall. Jonathan Scott
Even if you can’t draw for the life of you, a blank tableau looks good if it’s abstract. Feel free to let the paint loose as you explore the “spatial dynamics and pictorial elements” of abstraction through a variety of media in Cooper Union‘s “Abstract Drawing” (212-353-4195, www.cooper.edu/ce) course. Go ahead and proudly declare you mistook your wife for a hat.
In school, I was always wicked good at cutting out “everything with a [insert letter here]” and pasting them to a piece of paper. Develop your cut-and-paste skills in Cooper Union‘s “Techniques of Collage Art” (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce), where you’ll learn the picture-making possibilities of collage, working with a range of materials. They even make great bargain presents!
Feeling blue because all you’ve got is that lonely snowman on the fridge? Create a portfolio comparable to Picasso’s in just four days at this “Weekend Drawing Marathon,” beginning August 9. Leave your buddies at the barbeque as you blur the distinctions between painting and drawing at the School of Visual Arts (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu/ce), working quickly of course.
Throw out those boring stamps and seashells—art collecting is where it’s at. Impress your artsy-fartsy friends after taking the New School‘s “Art Collecting 101: Contemporary Art” (212-229-5690, nsu.newschool.edu). Learn where to go and who to know as you navigate the contemporary art market. Clotilde Hainline
If talking about men, menstruation, and love seats doesn’t bore you, NYU‘s “Getting Published in Women’s Magazines” (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) may show you the way to some extra cash. It’s for freelancers who want to make the most of their embarrassing teenage mishaps. Homework consists of light readings from Cosmopolitan, Lifetime, and Marie Claire.
Haven’t drooled over “Hills Like White Elephants” yet? Learn to become a mini-Hemingway at Gotham Writers’ Workshop‘s one-day intensive course on dialogue (212-974-8377, writingclasses.com). The $125 class will teach you all you need to know about “saids” and the importance of eavesdropping.
“Before the teacher even left the topic of Google,” one student writes, “my mind was already blown.” Another concurs, “As he covered the ‘advanced search’ features, the mousy fact-checker to my left issued an audible gasp and swayed in her seat.” Mediabistro‘s “Find It All: Basic, Legal, Business and Government Research for Journalists” (212-929-8377, mediabistro.com), for good writers who can’t find good stories, transforms you from Google-dabbler to investigative reporter. Rachel Aviv