Back to the Future Classic Movie Review by Hady Chehlaoui

Starring: Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly) – Christopher Lloyd (Dr. Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown) – Thomas F. Wilson (Biff Tanen)

 Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

US Release Day: July 3rd 1985

Marty McFly is a struggling teen living in Hill Valley in 1985. His family defines “dysfunctional”. His father is a complete loser, his mom is a raging alcoholic and his siblings are utterly and completely lame!  His only friend is non other than eccentric and crazy scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (or ‘Doc’ as Marty calls him), whose latest creation is non other than a plutonium-powered DeLorean “time machine”. However when Marty is accidentally sent back to 1955, he must solve two things: First, he must find the young Doc in order to travel back to 1985 (did I mention that he cannot plutonium-power it in 1955?), and secondly must help his own teenage father (still a loser) conquer his teenage mother’s heart, who develops the hots for Marty himself! Marty is suddenly faced with a cataclysmic problem: If his parents never meet, he will cease to exist! To make all things even worse, he also has to cope with Biff, the town bully, who constantly makes the situation worse., and ultimately has to find a way to get back to the Future…

This movie is just great. Michael J. Fox’s performance is wonderful, but it’s Christopher Lloyd’s ‘Doc’ who steals the show. The chemistry between the whole cast is simply electric. The references to 80′s in the 50′s are hilarious (The Calvin Klein joke. The Ronald Reagan joke, etc…). This is seriously one of my favorite movies and is considered to be a cult classic. Back to the Future made Michael J. Fox an overnight star, and before he knew it, he was offered roles all over Hollywood.  Perhaps the young generation (people born in the 90′s and above) won’t like it because they might not find it funny or interesting enough but the thing is, you have to look as this movie, as if you were watching it in 1985. You will appreciate it more. The truth is that Back to the future, is a fantastic movie loved by many generations, and is filled with heart, comedy and a never ending race against the clock.  If you do like it, be sure to check out Back to the Future parts: II and III.

Grade: 7.5/10

Favorite Quote: 

Dr. Emmett Brown: Now, remember – according to my theory, you interfered with your parents first meeting. If they don’t meet, they won’t fall in love, they won’t get married and they won’t have kids. That’s why your older brother’s disappearing from that photograph. Your sister will follow, and unless you repair the damage, you’ll be next.

Marty McFly: Sounds pretty heavy.
Dr. Emmett Brown: Weight has nothing to do with it.

Fun Fact: A fridge was supposed to be used instead of the DeLorean in an earlier version of the script.

Favorite Moment: When Marty plays an “oldie” at the school dance.

Bras for a Cause Review by L’Armoire de Lana

I was not able to attend the Bras for a Cause fundraising event and competition last week. However, I felt the need to share it with you guys because of my immense support for One Wig Stand, one of the organizers. Here’s the first paragraph of my favorite review of the event by my good friend and fashion blogger Lana El Sahely. Make sure you check out her blog, L’armoire de Lana, if you’re a fashion person, it’s a must-read and if you’re not, you’ll learn a thing or two about that world!

Bras for a Cause aims to raise awareness about breast health and help women who have had breast cancer in a very creative campaign. In fact, for many breast cancer survivors, wearing the right bras and prostheses can really help improving the healing process; whether on an emotional or a physical level. Furthermore, women who had to go through surgery to heal have seen an alternation in their appearance. Thus, most of them don’t always find the right bra or can’t afford it, especially in our region of the world.

[read the rest here]

Let’s Send the Mighty Bytes from AUB to NYC

As you all may (or may not) know, national Microsoft Imagine Cup competitions are starting to take place in several countries to determine which team will represent every country in the finals that will take place this July in New York City.

What is the Imagine Cup?

Simply put, it’s worlds ‘premier student technology competition. Beginning with local and regional competitions, Imagine Cup 2011 comets to an exciting finale at the Worldwide Finals held this year in New York City, United States. Want more chance to win? Overall, the idea is to show technology can help solve the world’s toughest problems. The theme of this competition is to achieve the United Nations Millennium Goals, which include tackling poverty, pollution, diseases, etc…

Imagine Cup has been taking place since 2003, as a way to get students involved in the connection between people, information and systems. Lebanon recently started participating in this competition, with team USEK winning the national competition last year and represented Lebanon in the finals in Poland.

This year, the competition is wider, with universities like AUB participating this year (after it didn’t do so last year). AUB is being represented by a team named Mighty Bytes, which is made up of 5 computer science students: Amine Takieddine, Evangello Flouty, Houry Hera Margossian, Kareem el Chaar, and my friend Joseph Saba. They designed an educational game called A Better City, which its initiative is to let a child know how to better his city by playing the video game. A Better City teaches the player several valuable messages about improving the environment around him, such as installing filters in factories, how to evade diseases, sorting garbage to recycle and other valuable messages.

The game has several levels, each having a valuable message after its completion. In order for the project to prosper, this team needs your votes in order to represent Lebanon in the worldwide finale in New York.

The way to vote for them is the following:

Go to this link:

Fill out the fields. A Hotmail/Live email address is required to vote.

After creating the account, you’ll receive an activation email from Microsoft (either Junk Mail or Inbox). Click on the link in it, and log in with the account you just created.

Click on Mighty Bytes. Click on the button Vote under the YouTube video. THANKS =D

A Brave New World, I Mean Beer! By Christian Boukhater

I had the pleasure of trying this beer out at the AUB Business Student Society’s Beer Pong event at Nostrum in Gemmayzeh. I must confess, I think 961 tastes like rancid pee (not that I’ve tasted rancid pee, we’re speaking hypothetically). The guys outdid themselves this time though, and they might be picking through Almaza’s ultimate local beer dominion.

CBK apparently shares my thoughts exactly and has written them down below. Many thanks for sharing CBK.

Rejoice, people, for we have a newborn beer! Ever since…. No, that cheesy introduction won’t work here since it’s been forever that a single beer has dominated the Lebanese beer market. Almaza has always been the major, if not only, locally brewed beer. We have seen fleeting images of competition, like the brief appearance of Laziza, up until Almaza bought the company and castrated it turned it into their non-alcoholic beer variety.

We haven’t had anything to complain about until recently. Some people (or just myself at least) have noticed decline in Almaza quality, especially since Heiniken acquired the company in the end of 2002. Granted I was only 12 back then and I supposedly did not drink, the taste did not start deteriorating until around  the end of 2008, when a sudden increase in Heiniken was seen on store shelves for some reason.

But now, we have a new kid in town. LB Beer, short for Lebanese Brew, is a 100% local Lebanese beer. From the creators of 961 Beer, LB beer is a new, bold beer with an “authentic better taste”.

Just a few minutes ago I tried out my first bottle. A first of many to come. Whats interesting to note is that the bottle itself is brown, unlike the Almazian green, and that protects the beer better from the light and the UV that could damage the taste. Oh and speaking about the taste, it is really, really good.  It’s a different taste than Almaza, closer to Budweiser for those who have tasted it. The first few sips give you a sort of surprise, but after that, once you get used to it, you can really notice how smooth it is.

All in all, As a serious beer aficionado, I find LB Beer could be a serious competitor for the locally brewed, internationally renowned Almaza. But then again a monopoly is never good, so hooray for capitalisim, hooray for competition! 😀

Music and Moral Depravity by Guest Blogger Christian Bou Khater

Christian Bou Khater, better known as CBK, is a good friend of mine. He’s an engineering student at the American University of Beirut and has a breed of sarcasm I am very fond of. This is hopefully the first of many guest blog posts on Gino’s =)

Recent music trends, as a friend of mine so clearly pointed out, are all seemingly geared toward themes of moral depravity. Hedonist and erotic themes dominate the pop charts and air on the radio with little or no real monitoring. Exhibit A: A song called S&M was number 1 a few weeks ago. For those who aren’t familiar with the song, or what S&M means, try googling it with google pictures. (if your parents are around or there are kids in the room, it is generally not advisable, even with safesearch on)

In any case, I’d like to think most if not all of us have thought of how our era is going to be defined in music. The 60s had the beatles, the 70s had the eagles and pink Floyd, the 80s had disco and the 90s had micheal Jackson. What do we have? Lady gaga? Rihanna? Pitbull?  Will our decade be defined by lyrics like “sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me” and  simply “why don’t we just fuck?” . I mean, come on.

However, all hope may not be lost just yet. Historical evidence shows that the songs that last are not the ones that top the charts, but the ones that can apply whenever, wherever and to whomever. Lets travel back a few years. Im sure most of us remember the great summer hit “my neck, my back”. Back then, it was the most depraved piece of garbage we’ve yet to hear, and we ate it up! We all used to sing it, it was a classic. But come to think of it, where is it now? Is it played on the radio at all? Does anyone even still have it on his playlist? Where did it go? It just vanished. Or “its getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes”, the song which happened to top the 2002 charts. Yea I’ve a hard time remembering it aswell. But I think most of us would still listen to “by the way-Red hot chilli peppers” also released in 2002.

An even better example: We all know and love pink floyd’s the wall. It may not come as a shocker, but no it was not number one on the charts in 1980. Blondie’s “call me” was.

The main idea remains, that our so called depraved music is like eating junk food. It comes in as processed crap, we digest it, it leaves as twice processed crap and we forget about it after a week of explosive diherria, never to be heard of again. However, the songs with real substance, the ones that last, we may not hold in the highest regard now, but back in the day, even Shakespeare was made fun of. The human race will come around, trust me J

Till then, enjoy all the R-rated content the airwaves offer, before the Lebanese authorities figure out what most of the lyrics mean and eventually censor pretty much everything!

The Little Things… Like An Enveloping-Kind-of-Love by Meggie Bassil

My Dearest Readers,

I know you can’t get enough of my awesome posts, but there’s only so many I can humanly post. I enjoy reading a lot of other people’s work though, and love to share what I find. One of those people is my teacher and friend Meggie Bassil, who’s a Psychologist like no other… Her teaching career runs in tandem with her real-life experiences with Autistic children, and inspires her blog posts.

Her writing humanizes neuroscience and psychology and makes them accessible in a moving and touching way, shedding light on issues we overlook or downplay in our everyday lives.

Anyway, before I let you read her latest post, I am glad to announce to you that Meggie will be a regular contributor on my blog, and her posts will be featured here regularly! =)


Karim and Meggie

While walking around just yesterday, I realized that I have been writing this blog for a little over a month and yet, I still haven’t introduced you to my first love-at-first-sight. I have mentioned him, yes, I remember, but still the simple mentioning doesn’t give him justice. 

You see, this boy, does more than light up my life he gives meaning to every little thing that I do. He is a very important element in making me the Meg that you know today. And I believe it is time that you get properly acquainted.

Karim entered my life in September 2006. I had heard so much about him from my best friend, from the way he sits like a little Buddha, to the way his big eyes sparkle, but all his stories did not prepare me to what I felt the instant I saw him. He was sitting in his playroom on the white spongy floor, flipping quickly through the pages of some book.

Standing watching him, I remember feeling nervous, scared and, naive. This tiny little boy, with the soft cascading brown hair frightened me.

At the time I was embarrassed to admit to this feeling, but 5 years later, I have learned and grown so much because of this boy, that admitting this to you all feels as natural as admitting to my car-crazed fiancé that I still don’t know how to change a flat tire.

People who know me well, know that I am someone who likes to have control. Not the kind of control over people, not the bossy type, but to be in control of what I am doing. I like to be prepared, informed, and perfectly à la hauteur at what I do. And this boy, well, threw my structure, my books, and my research, out the window the second I saw him. I felt unveiled and bare, and completely and utterly lost.

As I watched him, flipping through the thin pages, I wondered if he would like me. Five minutes later, he walks out, and, upon noticing this strange girl in his space, looks straight at me.

He’s looking at me! I remember silently thinking to myself “that must be a good sign!”
My role in this child’s life was to teach him, something I have always loved to do: teach. But over the years, Karim has taught me much much more than I have ever taught an entire university classroom. He has taught me patience, a virtue that I had never really owned prior to him. He has taught me friendship.

I cannot lie; Karim has turned his back at me many times, when I truly longed to reach out for him. But at the end of the day, all friends sometimes need their own space. And once I learned to respect that, not once has he abandoned me. He is always one bounce away to include me in his game once again.

He has taught me perseverance. I have always wanted to do things perfectly well, but when I fail at something, or fail to master it, I quickly give up… This boy, astonishes me every day with his fueled perseverance and effort to impress me, show me, prove to me, that he can do and say everything that he so cleverly knows I, as others, so badly want to instill in him.

He has taught me to pause. Pause, and realize how many things I have and still take for granted each and every day, like just how strong the sun can shine sometimes, and just how loud the music can resonate sometimes, and just how harsh the wind can slap my skin sometimes.. Little things that I am immune to, but that he silently suffers much more times that not.

And finally, he has taught me love. Unconditional love. The kind of love that envelops you and keeps you warm through the coldest days and the loneliest hours. With him, I am never lonely. And I hope he feels the same way.

Karim will be turning ten in two weeks time. He is the most handsome boy in the entire world, I tell him everyday. He is the bravest, most inspiring student I have come to know, I remind him everyday.
He loves basketball and marshmallows.
He can ride a bicycle, he can rollerblade, and he is super fast on his scooter.
He swims like a fish, and wouldn’t mind a bit to spend an entire day in the pool.
He enjoys watching DVDs while comfortably snuggled in his beanbag, his favorite DVD right now seems to be Scooby Doo.
He is and will always be my first love.
He has autism, and he speaks to me everyday.
Thank you Karim, for making me a part of your life.

April is Autism Awareness Month. If you are lucky enough, one of these exceptionally special children will teach you all that I know now, and will surround you with their enveloping-kind-of-love. I am lucky, and I know it.

Beirut أ Love You (أي لوف يو نوت) by Guest Blogger Ellen Francis

Whenever I hear the words “Arabic” and “TV series” in the same sentence, the first thing that comes to mind is Maria Mercedes. For some reason, I always picture an overly-exaggerated drama in which Maria either cheats on her husband, suffers a tragic brain trauma, or both. The sad truth is that Lebanese cinema and TV have been tainted with cliché war movies, badly translated Mexican series and cheesy Turkish shows (no offence to any Mohannad fans).

This is why I couldn’t help but smile when I heard that LBC has started broadcasting a new Lebanese-made series. ”Beirut I Love You ” revolves around the lives of 5 young people, their personalities, their relationships, and how it all intertwines with their bond to Beirut.  The show is written and directed by aspiring moviemakers, Cyril Aris and Mounia Akl, who founded the amateur film crew “An Orange Dog Productions” in 2009.

This recent label rose to pop-culture fame earning many international awards with two no-budget videos you can, scratch that, you HAVE TO watch on YouTube. The first, Beirut I Love You (I Love You Not) which inspired the creation of the series, depicts life in Beirut by telling the love story of Tarek and Yasmine. The second is a 3-chapter short film called Cheers to Those Who Stay that can only be described as freaking brilliant.

Another smile-inducing aspect of the TV/web series is the fact that it’s promoting all types of local talent, especially rising bands such as Mashrou’ Leila and White Trees by using their music as soundtrack.

For once, this is something that doesn’t center on the declining political situation, about which saying “been there, done that” would be a giant understatement. It’s a welcome change, and especially after the success of Shankaboot, it just might restore faith in the future of Lebanese Cinema. So, either tune into LBC every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 7:50 pm or watch the 4-minute episodes uploaded every Monday on their website

Whether it’s the eternal charm of the places we love like Hamra and Gemmayze, or the colorful characters of people like Abou Ali the Corniche coffee vendor, there’s something gripping in there that everyone will be able to relate to.


A Handful of Stones by Guest Blogger Meggie Bassil

Meggie Bassil was my Psychology 202 instructor at AUB two years ago. I owe my deep fascination in neuroscience first and foremost to her, for she helped me discover psychology for what it truly was: a science deeply rooted in Biology. Meggie, apart from teaching at AUB, works closely with children with Autism. Much to my, and many other people’s delight, Meggie has begun blogging, and here’s her latest entry, published with her permission.

Just yesterday, i had the privilege of meeting the new love of my life. Being the romantic that i am, you would probably assume that i am someone who believes in love at first sight, though i certainly am not. But when it comes to little boys with beautiful smiles and sparkling eyes, it just could happen. And i can honestly attest that it has happened to me.. twice.

An ex-student of mine called me earlier this week describing the case of his cousin’s three-year old son. From what he remembered from my class, he was worried that this little boy had autism, and was hoping that i could visit and give my impressions. We quickly set a date, keeping in mind that i had my hands full between jobs, and no intention to add a new child to my life. I’d go, consult and guide the parents, then head back home. At least that was the plan anyway.

Upon arriving, i am greeted by a warm loving family. Mom is concerned, teta and jeddo are worried, and big sister wants to help. I listen to their stories, their observations and remarks, and feel touched by how lovingly yet painfully they describe this child’s transformation from a verbal sociable boy who would babble all sorts of words to a non-verbal isolated boy whom they feel has slipped far from reach.

Where is this little boy? I ask.  I want to meet him.

Not the boy mentioned, just a picture off google similar to the description

And there I see him, glued closely to the television set flapping his hands and arms as arabic music blasted away. A little boy with golden blond hair and fluffy rosy cheeks in spiderman slippers. My heart skips a beat. Literally. He bounces from one foot to the other, swaying to the music. I call out his name, he seems completely oblivious to my voice. I call again, …nothing. His eyes glued to the television. I am not even there. To be honest, i have grown accustomed to situations like these, because of my experience with autistic children. I have been working with a child with autism for over 4 years (who just happens to be my first love-at-first-sight), and have struggled with many moments and challenges which i have learned to overcome and understand. And yet.. there i am, after all these years, i find myself standing there, silently wondering if he heard me but doesn’t like me already. Don’t take it personally meg, i remind myself.

Tayyeb any special interests? I ask mom.

Mmm, well yes, she says timidly, Stones… He is fascinated by stones…

So there i am, sitting on the carpet right next to this special little boy, with a handful of stones in my lap. I start tapping the stones together.

Tap tap I can make music with my stones!

And just like that, he turns away from the screen and reaches out for my small treasures. I place a large stone in his small soft hand, and watch him hold it tight between his fingers, then sliding it between his palms, then caressing it slowly as if studying its smooth surface. His eyes full of amazement, fascination, appreciation.

I spend the next five minutes watching this little boy and his stone. What does he see that i don’t?

I then return to talking with mom, discussing the way to go from here, action plans and interventions, where.. all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a small hand finds its way into mine and squeezes.

And that’s WHEN it happened.

The smile of a little blond-haired boy who could melt a thousand icebergs.

He pulls me off my chair and guides me through the house, from room to room, as if showing me around. Then back to the sitting area where mom and grandparents are waiting for us.

And that’s HOW it happened.

That’s how my new love, with the fascination for stones, squeezed himself into my life, and my schedule for two hours a week.

Some people are hard to please, hard to impress. And yet others, find the little things in life fascinating. Those people can turn nothing into everything. This little boy, with the spiderman slippers, did just that. And because of him, I will never look at stones the same way…

Follow Meggie here

Night of the Ad Eaters Review by Sabine Massaad


It was one of those ironic moments in life. Eagerly driving down to UNESCO to sit through a six hour montage of the one thing we deliberately choose to skip in real life- advertisements. The minute I walked in I felt a wave of flyers, free samples, and gift bags make their way into my palms. I was hooked: that may have been the free Dunkin Doughnuts coffee or they may have achieved their goal for the night- public attraction. I entered the hall to find my seat already taken by yet another gift bag, it was like every holiday known to man in one night.

The whole point of the night was to pay tribute to some of the best television commercials internationally, the event was happening on the same weekend in 40 different countries, presenting 500 ads of 60 nationalities.

And so it began, after the words “The night of the Adeaters” flashed on the screen in more languages than I knew existed, commercials began to play. The commercials ranged from witty, hilarious, to slightly disturbing, and extremely mind-boggling. It was kind of like seeing your life flash before your eyes, so many different scenes different concepts; it really stimulates your mind and lets you know that speech is not the only form of communication. Weirdly enough, once it was all over I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the excessive advertisement I had just been subjected to, I started to keep a lookout for any smart slogans, and pause before changing the channel once they switch to commercials. “The night of the Adeaters” was a hit, if you weren’t there you probably missed the ad.


Courtesy of BNL

Where the Grass is Greener by Elias Shaya

To understand where this is coming from, make sure you read this entry and the comments on it

I was sitting at the end of a table in an oak-paneled dining hall being served a three-course meal conversing with some of the brightest minds in the world.  To my right, was Dr. Robert Lue, the director of Life Sciences education at Harvard and a renowned cell biologist, to my left sat Dr. Andrew Berry, a lecturer on evolutionary biology.  A couple of tables down, Professor Georges Whitesides entertained a couple of lucky students.  Countless were the world-famous academic names that night dining with students in one of Harvard’s historic Houses by the Charles River.  With the exception of other Ivy League schools, few are the colleges that nurture such personal relations between faculty and students.  Yet, this is a superficial example of what an education at an American residential college can offer students.

The scene I just described was the Annual Student-Faculty dinner that allows Harvard students to invite their professors to a formal dinner.  However, students have the chance to interact with star-studded faculty on a daily basis.  Other than facilitating student-faculty interaction, Harvard – and other higher education institutions – offers students numerous chances to get involved in research, whether in the social or natural sciences.  Such opportunities, alas, are limited in Lebanon.  Many differences exist between American colleges and Lebanese ones.  Although, both AUB and LAU offer a liberal art curriculum that is recognized in the States, they lack the resources and facilities that some American colleges have.

Undergraduate life is very different among colleges, and even more so among colleges on different continents.  For instance, the course offering at most American schools – especially the Ivy plus – dwarfs that of any other college in the world.  Harvard alone offers over 3,500 courses to its students every year.  As for facilities, these colleges have everything, even a nuclear reactor (MIT).  Another main feature of such colleges is the extra-curricular program.  Most have an independent daily newspaper, and some newspapers own their own presses.  The Harvard Crimson is even on the Associated Press Wire.  These schools have over 400 clubs with interests ranging from fighting AIDS in Africa to helping underprivileged kids pass the SAT.  They are also big on athletics.  Harvard leads the bunch with 41 division 1 varsity teams.  So whatever a student is interested in doing, he/she will find a club that fits their interests.  Compared to the offerings at Lebanese institutions, the American campuses are much more vibrant.

Because of their reputations, these American colleges end up attracting the brightest and most motivated students from around the globe.  As a Harvard undergrad, I go to class with Olympians, published authors, recording artists, Broadway performers, politicians’ children, and the list goes on.  Some professors even joke that students learn from each other more than from lectures.

In brief, I want to make one thing clear: an undergraduate experience at a top American college is not equivalent to one at [insert favorite Lebanese university].  Although Lebanese universities have a lot to offer and are distinguished institutes of higher education, the resources at many American colleges’ disposal far exceed that of any school in Lebanon.  So, if you have the qualifying grades and SAT scores, APPLY to the Ivies.  You never know what fate has in store for you.  And, if you ever encounter an ignorant peer (or even parent) that tells you, “La shou raye7 3a America, b2a bi lebnen.  Il B.S. mish mhemeh, sefer lal Masters” nod politely and smile.  Quite frankly: How would they know?

Elias A. Shaaya ’12 is a molecular and cellular biology concentrator at Harvard College.  He graduated from Saint Joseph School, Cornet Chahwan.