5 Classes You Can Take With Celebrities

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Traditional wisdom says that in order to become the best, you should learn from the best. Whether you’re trying to perfect your tennis serve, write a play, or launch your own fashion empire, here are helpful classes, tutorials, and learning programs offered by some of the most famous names in the business.

1. SPEND A WEEKEND COOKING WITH CELEBRITY CHEFS.

Chef and restaurateur Dan BarberRob Kim/Getty Images

At the New York Culinary Experience, aspiring chefs can spend an entire weekend stirring, sautéing, and seasoning their way to culinary greatness alongside some of the food industry’s most famous figures. Hosted by New York Magazine and the International Culinary Center, the event offers participants the chance to take classes with star chefs, participate in Q&A sessions with key food industry players, and hobnob with other gourmands.

Last year's event featured hands-on tutorials by Blue Hill at Stone Barn’s Dan Barber, Nobu executive chef Ricky Estrellado, and chocolatier Jacques Torres. Dates for this year’s New York Culinary Experience haven’t been announced yet, nor have guest chefs or ticket prices. That said, sharing a kitchen with figures like Barber, Estrellado, and Torres doesn’t come cheap: Last year’s attendees paid $1695, a fee that included four classes, meals, and private closing receptions on both days.

2. TAKE A FASHION DESIGN CLASS WITH DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, AN ARCHITECTURE COURSE WITH FRANK GEHRY, A DRAMATIC WRITING CLASS WITH DAVID MAMET, AND MORE.

Fashion designer Diane von FurstenbergJohn Lamparski/Getty Images

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention MasterClass, the digital education platform that connects internet students of all skill levels and interests with celebrity “teachers” like comedian Steve Martin, Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, or country star Reba McEntire. The virtual “classes” cost $90 and include streaming videos and reading materials.

All videos are pre-recorded, but participants can seek feedback from their classmates in an online forum or in comment threads. Occasionally, they're given the chance to receive direct critiques from their famous teachers (although it's unclear how often it happens). To bridge any communication gaps, instructors hold "Office Hours," in which they post online answers to select student questions.

Not interested in writing jokes, composing award-winning movie scores, or singing about souped-up Chevys and broken hearts? Brand-new MasterClass course offerings are currently in the works, including a fashion course taught by designer Diane von Furstenberg; a dramatic writing class by David Mamet; a photography course by Annie Leibovitz; and an architecture/design course taught by Frank Gehry.

3. LEARN TO CREATE COMICS WITH FORMER MARVEL EDITOR/WRITER DANNY FINGEROTH.

Marvel Comics writer/editor Danny Fingeroth and Stan Lee.Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images

For years, Danny Fingeroth worked at Marvel Comics as the group editor of the company's Spider-Man book line, and wrote issues of The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, Avengers, and other comics. He has also written books about comics and graphic novels, including an upcoming biography of Stan Lee. Amid his busy schedule, Fingeroth takes time to teach aspiring comics writers.

In addition to lecturing at universities and museums, he offers online writing classes for up to six students, and provides one-on-one tutorials via email or phone. Fingeroth’s next online class begins on November 5, and the registration deadline is October 15. It’s six weeks long and costs $450. As for individual classes, they’re available upon request, and prices are determined on an hourly or per-project basis.

4. IMPROVE YOUR SERVE WITH ANDRE AGASSI.

Tennis Player Andre Agassi Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Tennis player Andre Agassi retired in 2006, following a 21-year career that saw him win eight Grand Slam tournaments and a 1996 Olympic gold medal. Today, the athlete runs an education nonprofit, the Andre Agassi Foundation, and he recently took time to do his own teaching, teaming up with learning platform Udemy.com to share his secrets to a successful match.

The online course costs $10, marked down from its original $100, and includes one hour of on-demand video lectures. Agassi walks viewers through his signature moves (including his famous return of serve), shares his go-to drills, and explains his mental strategies for staying focused and in control on the court. The course is recommended for advanced-beginner and intermediate tennis players, but anyone with a computer or mobile device with internet connection can technically follow along.

5. PERFECT YOUR VOCAL, DANCE, AND AUDITIONING SKILLS WITH AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY STARS.

The cast of Hamilton performing at the Grammys.Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Dreaming of making it big on Broadway? Before seeing your name in lights, you’ll need to fine-tune your dance moves, perfect your auditioning skills, and train your voice to hit all the right high notes. That’s where the Broadway Artists Alliance comes in: Located in New York City’s Theater District, the performance arts training center hosts master classes for advanced students, taught by Broadway performers, casting directors, and Tony Award winners or nominees.

Classes are often themed and range in technique from monologue performance to scene study and song interpretation. Upcoming classes include a half-day session with Hamilton actor Thayne Jasperson and an Anastasia-themed full-day class for young actors taught by Christy Altomare, star of the same-titled Broadway musical.

To enroll in a master class at the Broadway Artists Alliance, you’ll need to apply online and submit a headshot and resume. Half-day classes typically cost $175, and full-day classes (which are typically recommended for students 21 and younger) cost $250.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]