Review: The Outpost

This is the first time I have reviewed a magazine, but it is so outstanding that it deserves to be treated as more than just a magazine. The Outpost is an exceptional publication coming from Beirut. Being Lebanese, and of the same generation as the magazine’s target, it would seem biased for me to feel this way, and perhaps that is what has given me & many other twenty-something year olds from the region a deep connection to its content. However, the increasing recognition & positive international reviews the magazine is receiving, illustrates that it is of superior caliber as an independent publication in its own right. That it comes from Beirut & focuses on the Middle East is just a bonus. Having only just published its fourth issue, it is already being sold in cities across the global including London, New York & Sydney.

the outpost

The Outpost has a purpose. It gives the youth and generation of those who have lived & who are living there, through the continuous turmoil of the Middle East, a voice. A voice not readily heard by those outside the region & a voice of truth; one that is raw and full of integrity, and most of all full of possibility. It expresses the struggles of those who live there and resurfaces the nostalgic feelings of us who have lived there. It magnifies special nuances of the Middle East that many of us have unconsciously experienced and gives them life. A poignant, bittersweet reminder of what is, what was and what could be. A culmination of fact and fiction, with an exceptional high standard of writing & prose, or simply put “words”.

Organized in such a way that each issue is based around a theme, with the most recent being “The possibility of getting lost”, every page is mesmerizing and tackles conglomeration of social, cultural, historical, political and contemporary issues with thought provoking, sophisticated detail and design.

It is uncensored and honest, putting a spotlight on the Arab youth and its contemporary culture with creative complexity. Paired with a high standard of visual design, photography and vintage advertisements from the Arab world, each page is rich with meaning.

For the Middle East, it offers the unaware a possibility to discover, while giving many of us, the possibility of being heard.


Film Review: A Cat in Paris

Sometimes, you’re just in the mood for cartoons with a cat. And I don’t mean tom & jerry. This cute animation, A Cat in Paris, is the story of a cat who runs around Paris at night with a burgalar, assisting him in robbing apartments by moonlight. During the day, the cat returns to his owner, a sweet little French girl, for some TLC & snooze time. If you’re a cat lover, and still a child at heart, you will enjoy this French cartoon. Although you can also find it in English, or with subtitles. One of those family movies that everyone likes.  Especially for the cat people!

Watch the trailer here.

A Cat in Paris

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Book Review: Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf

First publisLeo the Africanhed 25 years ago, Leo Africanus (also called Leo the African) is a timeless, captivating classic. It is based on the true life of Hasan Al-Wazzan, the 16th century traveler and writer, who explored and travelled the Mediterranean throughout his life time. He witnessed the fall of Granada, the blossoming of Fez, the Ottoman conquest of Egypt and Renaissance in Rome. It is divided into four parts: The book of Granada, the book of Fez, The book of Cairo and finally, the book of Rome. Yet this is not a dry historical novel, it is a masterful piece of history inspired by the real-life Al-Wazzan. The history is accurate and the character real, but read like fiction…it is a mix of adventure, travel, exotic tales, war, love and self-discovery. Amine Maalouf truly captures the zeitgeist of what it was like to live and exist in the Arab world over 500 years ago… 

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Film Review: Curfew

Curfew is a short film from writer/director, Shawn Christensen, who also stars in this movie. Not surprisingly it won best live action short film at the Oscars earlier this year…I got to see it at last years BFI Film Festival in London & it was really great. It starts off with a 20 something year old man in the bathtub, wrists slit and waiting to die. Until he gets a phone call. He decides to answer it, and it is his sister asking him to babysit for her daughter, urgently. Just this once. Reluctantly, he removes himself from the bathtub, and goes on to babysit the 9-year old.

What follows is an adorable depiction of the relationship between niece and uncle.  The film is only 19 minutes long with beautiful art direction and a great soundtrack. Set in New York, it’s a short that is truly endearing, charming as it is tragic.

Click here to watch the trailer.


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A walk on the Corniche: Beirut

One of the many charms of Beirut, is that the bustling city is straight on the Mediterranean sea. In the heart of Beirut, you can walk down to the “Corniche”, as we call it, the boardwalk, and find your own escape, taking a long walk along the sea. Since I’ve remembered, you will always find the usual characters there. The man who sells Turkish coffee, he who sells ‘Kaak’ (a special Arabic bread in the shape of a bag, topped with sesame seeds or spices)…the Beirut runners, the walkers, joggers. The children who have found a space to run free and ride their bikes. A bench where lovers sit staring into the horizon. Where friends stroll along, deep in conversation, shoe shiners, ponderers and lonely philosophers smoking their cigarettes. Fishermen, laughing groups of teenage boys…those climbing over the side of the cliff for a free swim, and those just enjoying the sea breeze, watching the sunset, alone in their thoughts. Best of all, you will always find a mix of people from all around the country, young old, travellers and locals.

Here are a few pictures to give you a taste of it, on a calm summer afternoon.

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What Shooting Stars are really made out of…

The below YouTube clip really made me laugh. It’s Colonel Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut, explaining what a shooting star could, quite technically, and sometimes actually is, truly made out of. The Canadian astronaut most recently worked onboard the International Space station as Commander, conducting a record-setting number of scientific experiments onboard & recently came back down to earth this past spring. What makes him special though, is how accessible he is to us earthlings. He is avid on Social Media, and orbiting the planet doesn’t stop him. While in Space, he still surfs the net, has Skype chats and posts on Twitter. He takes the time to answer the questions of curious children (and adults) about the universe, flying objects, stars, planets and basically what it’s like to live outside our planet…typical astronaut stuff….while floating around in zero gravity.

So if you’re ever curious to what happens when you sneeze in space, about what astronauts eat, and other perhaps more profound questions of the universe, you can rely on him to probably have already answered them. You can check him out on Twitter, YouTube & of course, Facebook

He is also coming out with an autobiography “An Astraonaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”, & even has a sound cloud account (!), which has recordings of “The Sounds of Space”. Oh, and he even has a music video, Space Oddity – Ground Control to Major Tom, filmed on the space station up, in space.

Is there anything this guy can’t do?


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Book Review: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

This story goes back and forth between 1930s & present day Edinburgh. In the 1930s, Esme Lennox is sent away to a mental institution on account of her hysteria. Forward to present day Edinburgh where her great-niece is called upon to collect her previously unknown, great-aunt from the same instutition, which is now shutting down. This leaves her niece trying to piece together the puzzle of how she came to live in a mental institution for 60 years. It has the typical O’Farrell style of weaving together two stories from different generations. O’Farrell gives away pieces of information throughout, interweaving past and present until everything comes together in the end, with a signature twist. Set in Scotland, the backdrop adds to the mysteries that continue to unfold throughout the book. It is one of those books that only loosly ties the knot at the end, leaving it up to the reader to fill in some of the blanks. It is quite a short and easy read; it does not even have any chapters. Something that would be good for a week-end beach trip, or a long flight. Although it does not compete with The Hand that First Held Mine, it is an easy-read, quirky novel that leaves you wondering.

Vanishing Act

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