Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Barnes & Noble Portable Professor Series

Is summer construction lengthening your daily commute? Do you have a summer road trip coming up? If you haven't already purchased an audio course from the Teaching Company, an alternative is the Barnes & Noble Portable Professor Series.

These audio-course boxed sets include a batch of CDs and a mini-textbook. I'm almost finished with "The Seven Great Tragedies of Shakespeare," an outstanding course taught by none other than the legendary Harold Bloom.

Other enticing options include:
  • What Would Socrates Do? A History of Moral Thoughts and Ethics
  • Foundations of Western Thought: Hebrews, Greeks and Romans
  • Masters of Enterprise: How the Titans of American Business Shaped the U.S. Economy
  • Monsters, Gods and Heroes: The Epic in Literature
  • Six Months that Changed the World: The Treaty of Versailles and the Road to World War II
  • More than Mozart: Listening to and Appreciating Classical Music
  • When Gods Walked the Earth: Myths of Ancient Greece
  • Vault of the Heavens: Exploring the Solar System's Place in the Universe

I could go on. The topics are great, and the instructors are top-notch. Imagine passing that long commute without stewing about gas prices! The boxed sets are available online or at any Barnes & Noble location.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Killing Time in the Summer Doldrums

Oh, how I long for those fall class schedules to be released. They're like the school supply aisle at Target -- so full of possibility! I had a momentary thrill today when I visited the Indianapolis Art Center's site and accidentally read "full class schedule" as "fall class schedule." But, no, it is not even July. We will have to be patient.

In the meantime, it's not too late to sign up for late-summer classes at spots around town. The IUPUI Community Learning Network offers a number of classes that start in July, including fitness, art, and home and garden classes.

Upcoming workshops at the Indianapolis Art Center include silk painting, photography, goblet making, papermaking, jewelry design, painting, event planning, furniture refinishing and botanical illustration.

Kiss Z Cook has some mouth-watering cooking classes coming up in July, such as "Pies, Pies, Pies," "Cooking with Beer," "Belize Cuisine" and "Grindhouse Favorites."

And, of course, summer is a great time to take that historic ghost tour, visit the Holcomb Observatory or explore a museum you haven't seen since elementary school.

Meanwhile, I'll keep looking nostalgically at yellow pencils and gazing mournfully at outdated class schedules.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cooking Classes at Oakley's Bistro

I just got an e-mail from Oakley's Bistro about its summer series of classes. What I really want to know is how to make the restaurant's decadent mac-n-goat-cheese side dish, but I'll settle for the following:

Monday, July 14: Seafood selection, storage, prep and cooking (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., $40).

Monday, July 28: Food and Wine Fare tasting event focusing on Spain, Chile and Argentina (6:30-8:30 p.m., $60).

Monday, Aug. 11: Working with Indiana produce (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., $40).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Off the Beaten Track: Museums and Historic Sites

Work has been crazy, so it's been a few days since my last blog. All work and no play makes this a dull blog.

Unfortunately, we're also in the summer doldrums where classes are concerned. That means it's time to take advantage of the year-round learning opportunities in Indianapolis, such as museums and historical sites.

You already know about the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Eiteljorg and the Indiana State Museum, of course, but here are a few you might not have considered:
  • The Morris-Butler House, a historic landmark, offers guided tours on the half hour Wednesday through Saturday ($5). The 1865 home is a window on the life of the upper-middle-class Victorian family who lived there.
  • Did you know there's a museum inside the Soldiers and Sailors Monument? The Col. Eli Lilly Civil War Museum highlights the war experiences of Indiana residents.
  • The Children's Museum of Indianapolis has several temporary exhibits you might find interesting, including one on the history of animation and one on comic-book heroes. (And I still think the museum is one of the best date spots in the city.)
  • Conner Prairie continues its series of one-day and overnight On the Farm Experiences this summer. Tend the garden, feed the livestock, make a meal the old-fashioned way ... in other words: work hard while you learn.
  • The President Benjamin Harrison Home showcases the life of Indiana's only president. Tours are available on the hour and half-hour (closed Sunday); cost is $8.

Now, back to work ...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Art Institute of Indianapolis

Just a quick note about the Art Institute of Indianapolis: Although the program offers enticing programs in cooking, photography and interior design, you must be enrolled as a full-time student to take classes there. Too bad. On the plus side, the admissions rep assured me that most programs can be completed in "only one year." Have a bunch of vacation days saved up?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Classes in the Fountain Square Area

I just picked up a fabulous guide to the city's six cultural districts, and it reminded me about several class opportunities in Fountain Square.

Boca Loca Beads is Fountain Square's spot for jewelry-making classes. Topics include stringing beads, working with wire, silversmithing and making glass beads (a technique called lampworking). Classes range from $30 to $225 and take place primarily in the evenings.

Mass Ave Knit Shop offers a beginning knitting class, an adult knitting camp, and other varied knitting classes, such as Sockaholics Anonymous. There's even an afghan "block of the month" club.

Remember those old Gap commercials? At the Fountain Square Theatre, you can take swing-dancing lessons every other Friday evening.

At Arthur's Music Store, you can sign up for individual lessons on 22 different instruments, everything from drums, pianos, guitars and violins to bagpipes, hammered dulcimers and accordions. Voice training and music theory lessons are also available.
Also check out:

I'm sure I've missed some classes offered by the artists in residence at the Murphy Arts Center and the Wheeler Arts Community. If you have that info, please send it my way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Topic Overview: Acting Classes

I'm venturing into uncharted territory today. I've taken lots and lots of classes, but never an acting class. To be honest, I don't have the guts.

Maybe some of you are feeling a bit braver, however, so here's where to go for local acting classes.

One option is the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, which offers a Studio Series of adult acting and dance performance classes. The 10-week Basic Acting class costs $150 and begins in September.

Another option: Acting classes through Carmel Community Players. Taught by local actor Ken Klingenmeier (who actually has his own IMDB page), the Beginning Acting class lasts six weeks and costs $105. There's also a workshop on improvisation, if you're feeling super-brave.

The Phoenix Theatre and the Indiana Repertory Theatre also offer adult acting classes, but none are scheduled at the moment. I'll keep checking back and let you know when classes are listed.
P.S. If you do take a class at the IRT, try to have a word with someone about the recent series of *abridged* Shakespeare plays. I mean, really.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Art Classes at the Stutz

Just when I think I know about every continuing education program in the city, I find a new one. My latest discovery: art classes offered by the Stutz Artists Association, a group of artists with studios in the Stutz building.

The summer/fall class schedule features a variety of art classes, from painting and figure drawing to photography and silk-screening. Classes are in the $200-$300 range, and they generally meet once a week for five to 10 weeks.

If you're more in the mood for a one-shot workshop, artist Shelley Savini is offering a workshop titled "Understanding and Creating Political Art and Collage." The class costs $50 and meets from 9 a.m. to noon on either Wednesday, June 25, or Wednesday July 2 (choose one). Could be interesting!

Review: Historic Ghost Tour

We had the perfect ambiance Friday night for our ghost tour with Haunted Indiana: lightning, thunder, wind and a drizzle of rain. We started our tour at Monument Circle, then took a 90-minute stroll through downtown, hearing stories of hauntings and grizzly murders along the way.

Among other sites, we visited Rock Bottom (haunted by firefighters), the former L.S. Ayres (haunted by two former workers) and the Slippery Noodle (haunted by lots of people).

The focus, of course, was on ghostly activity, but there was some interesting history mixed in. It was nice to know the history of some of the buildings we see every day, and to learn about the growth of the city over time.
Our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly, and he started out the tour just right: by explaining his own personal encounter with a ghost.

I'll admit that the tour leaned more toward entertainment than education, but that's okay. It's better for your brain than another weekend evening at the movies.
The next ghost walk in downtown Indianapolis is June 27, but the company also offers walking and bus tours of Noblesville, Westfield and Hamilton County. Reservations required.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Random Learning Opportunities

Readers, I must beg your forgiveness. I spent today's blogging time watching last night's "Top Chef." Perhaps you'll forgive me if one of these tidbits piques your interest.

If you live on the north side and are interested in taking art classes, check out Artisan Masterpiece in Carmel. The gallery is home to a wide range of art classes, from painting and drawing to stained glass and jewelry design.

If you'd like to learn more about architecture and product design, check out the design film series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Next up: A collection of short films about designing products, including the famous Eames lounge chair (6 p.m., June 12, free).

Want to know more about going "green" in Indianapolis? Visit Green Piece Indianapolis (nope, not a typo) and sign up for its twice-weekly e-mail newsletter.

Mark your calendars for this weekend's Indiana Festival at Conner Prairie. You can learn about multicultural music and dance traditions while munching on an elephant ear.

And, finally, be watching this weekend for my review of the historic ghost walks we talked about a few weeks ago. Let's see whether they're educational or just plain cheesy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cooking 101 at Frasier's

Don't know the difference between comfit and mirepoix? Frasier's Gourmet Foods is offering its Cooking 101 class on three Saturdays in June. The instructor is Joseph Allford, formerly the pastry chef at Peterson's (yum) and now an instructor in the culinary program at the Art Institute of Indianapolis.

The class costs $325 and is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 7, 14 and 21. The curriculum includes knife skills, soups and stocks, sauces and marinades, fish, meat, poultry, and basic baking skills.

My regular readers will remember how I feel about cooking classes at Frasier's, but I'm thinking this class may be organized differently to provide more hands-on experience. Let's hope so!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Distance Education at Ball State

Ball State University's distance learning program is enrolling now for its second summer session, which starts June 16. Classes are available in about 50 of the university's departments; some are taught online, while others are held at satellite campuses in Indy and Fishers. Maybe I'll finally get around to taking a sign-language class!

Here are a few classes that sound interesting:
  • History: "Studies in Non-Western Civilizations" and "The West in the World"
  • Philosophy: "Introduction to Philosophy"
  • Theatre: "Introduction to Theatre"
  • Sociology: "Deviance" (probably not as fun as it sounds, right?)
  • Religious studies: "Religion in American Culture" and "Religions of the World"
  • Dance: "Introduction to Dance History"