Category: Classes

A case of Russian

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006 | All Things, Classes

Having missed last week’s class, it was up to me to review on my own some of the materials we covered last Wednesday.

In Russian, the instrumental case (tvorítel’nyj padézh) is used to mark the means by which an action is done. The “instrument” can be a physical entity (“by car,” “with friends” or “with a pen“) or more abstract (“with enthusiasm“). It is also used to denote spatial relationships (behind, between, under), a time during which an action occurs (“in the evenings“), a change of state or status (“After eating all those apricots, I became ill“), or to emphasize a profession (“She works as a doctor.”) All this I ascertained from the supplemental Russian study guide I ordered through this week. Because the topic wasn’t covered in the textbook  we’re using for the course. Yes, this class is proving to be quite a challenge.

Someday… I want to read Tolstoy in the original Russian.

Trump Globe

The aim of an artist is not to decide a question indisputably, but to compel us to love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations.

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1865)

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Hope and despair

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006 | All Things, Classes, Music

The public space at Broadway and Liberty, once known as Liberty Plaza Park, reopened — ahead of schedule — in June 2006. At the ribbon-cutting, it was rechristened Zuccotti Park in honor John Zuccotti, U.S. Chairman of Brookfield Properties (which owns The World Financial Center and One Liberty Plaza) and the chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York. Zuccotti is also a former first deputy mayor of New York City, and former chairman of the New York City Planning Commission. (So that’s  how you get a park named after you.)

I stepped out at 12:30PM for the second of three free lunchtime concerts in the square. Bassist-singer Esperanza Spaulding (whose name means “hope” in spanish) played a jazz set, backed by a keyboard player and drummer. The trio set up stage just in front of Mark di Suvero‘s 70-foot tall steel beam Joie de Vivre sculpture, which last year was relocated to the financial district from the Storm King Art Center in Orange County, New York, where I first saw it. I remember the ten months during which the park was closed off for construction, and how one leg of the sculpture’s tripod base emerged from over the plywood barriers set up along the perimeter – like an abstract red giant escaping easily over a too-low wall onto the sidewalks of Broadway.

Esperanza Spaulding

After work, I met up with SN for our first Russian class of the semester, which despite our entrenched pessimism, had not been canceled after all. Good  because I genuinely want to advance my language skills; bad  because I had done absolutely no review or preparation for the first class. Which turned out for me to be very bad indeed.

This being a language skills course — and one with only eight students — the oral participation requirement per student was set pretty high. I spent the entire two-hour class in a state of nausea and anxiety. You know the dream about having to take an exam for which you haven’t studied — in fact: you’ve no clue about the subject, your pencils keep breaking and you can’t even read the test papers? Yeah — sort of like the waking life version of that. At least I wasn’t naked.

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The Circle, then the Square

Sunday, September 17th, 2006 | All Things, Classes, Eats, Events

I got up bright and early on Sunday morning for my sautéing techniques class at Williams-Sonoma at the Shops at Columbus Circle. The class was the first I attended in the shop’s Sunday morning cooking series. I figured that although I already pretty much knew how to sauté, a more formalized instruction couldn’t but help. John, the instructor, explained a bit about the origins of sauté (from the French sauter, which means “to jump”) and the smoke points of different oils. As he talked us through a preparation of chicken with lemon-basil sauce, he offered some practical advice for successful sautéing: gradually heating the pan before adding the fat, not overcrowding the bottom of the pan, and ensuring all the pieces are generally the same thickness and size.



Which reminded me a little bit of the classic SNL sketch, Cooking with The Anal Retentive Chef. R.I.P., Phil Hartman.

Brunch downtown at Chat ‘n’ Chew with SYB, after which, en route to Time Out New York’s “Back to School Blowout” in Union Square, we passed through stand after stand piled high with skeins of colorful yarns and impressive displays of fiber crafts. And lots and lots of squealing women, many lugging around overstuffed shopping bags, along with the occasional shellshocked-looking man – all out for the Eighth Annual “Knit-Out & Crochet” event, also being held that afternoon in the Park.

I recognized a few of the yarn purveyors from around the city (like Seaport Yarn and the Upper West Side’s Knitty City) as well as some of the larger yarn and crafts manufacturers. It would have been very easy to get caught up in it all had I been with someone else (i.e., a woman), but I surmised that SYB probably wasn’t all that interested in oohing over the silks, cashmeres, mohairs and alpacas.

Chat n Chew

Knit Out


Time Out hosted the back-to-school festival last year also, the primary purpose of which is to welcome new — mainly, college — students to New York City and to introduce them to the vast and diverse offerings of the city. I like attending because in addition to being a continuing student – Russian class starts on Wednesday! – it’s nice to be reminded of why New York is such a great place to be.

Heartland Brewery was there in the Square, pumping out free beer from a keg, as was Trader Joe’s with their Mango Lemonade and Chile Spiced Mango samples (chewy, spicy — different.) Peanut Butter & Company had lots of coupons and temporary tattoos to distribute. I let the woman put one on my arm; it had a monkey on it! There were lots of giveaways – nothing spectacular, though SYB picked up a Wicked -emblazoned hand fan, and we both entered contests for Carnegie Hall subscriptions and comedy shows. Fingers crossed!

Back to School Bash

Popped into Max Brenner Chocolate by the Bald Man — the newish cafe/ restaurant/chocolate shop from Israel that opened its first New York City branch off Union Square, drawing crazy, sweet-seeking crowds, and inevitable comparisons to Willy Wonka (minus the Oompa Loompas.) From the moment we set foot inside the door, the rich, heady scent of chocolate permeated our nostrils. And no wonder: there were trays, plates, bins and fountains overflowing with the dark stuff at every turn. It was almost too much. Almost.



Cocoa Market

I hear they serve a chocolate “pizza” — with an optional topping of mini-marshmallows — in the cafe. Is that wonderful… or a little obscene?

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