Category Archives: Feature

Breaking News: Midd Graduate Peter Theo Curtis Freed After Being Held Captive in Syria by Qaeda Affiliate For Two Years

Today, breaking news revealed that after being held for nearly two years in a prison run by an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria, American freelance writer and Middlebury graduate Peter Theo Curtis was unexpectedly freed on Sunday after emissaries from Qatar’s government won his freedom on humanitarian grounds. While Curtis‘ relatives are not aware of the exact terms of the release agreement, they were told that no ransom was paid, in alignment with the US government’s long-standing policy not to negotiate with terrorists. This incredible event is undoubtedly a blessing to Curtis‘ family, the Middlebury community, and our nation at large, though it stands in a stark contrast to the brutal decapitation of fellow war correspondent James Foley last week, which must not, and cannot, be forgotten.

Curtis, now 45, wrote freelance journalistic dispatches under the name Theo Padnos and authored two books: “My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun,” a memoir about teaching literature to young offenders at a correctional facility in Vermont, and “Uncovered Muslim,” investigating Islamic extremism in Yemen. Curtis was taken near the Syrian border in October 2012 by Al Nusra Front, one of the groups seeking to overthrow President Bashir Assad of Syria that also has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. His 22 month captivity was kept private, at his family’s request.

After graduating from Middlebury College, Curtis, an Atlanta native, went on to earn a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts. He is fluent in French and Arabic, and also speaks German and Russian, according to his family.

Middbeat, as well as the entire Middlebury community, extends its relief, and love, to Curtis and his family, while continuously mourning the loss of James Foley and remaining hopeful for the many other journalists presently held captive over seas. Significant information on Curtis‘ release, captivity, and career is available — be sure to read up here, or at your preferred news source.

Also, stay tuned for exclusive Middlebury Magazine coverage of Curtis‘ release.

The Caiçara: J-term Documentary by Tommy Hyde ’14.5

Whether you were interested in the beautiful country of Brazil before this summer’s ragin’ World Cup or not (BTW USA! FUCK YA @ 4PM TODAY!), once you watch this awesome documentary-style video by Tommy Hyde ’14.5 you will certainly be scratchin’ for a trip down south. Tommy spent J-term 2014 living the Brazilian beach life in the small, non-touristy, fisherman-fueled town of Bonete, Brazil. This video was his final project. Check out Tommy’s description of the experience below. Definitely worth watching (make sure those subtitles are on unless you’ve mastered português as well)!

“So this was pretty much the best month of my life. Rita Croce ’14 was a hero and set me up with a little hut her family owns on this beach. I got to eat coconuts, surf everyday, and hang out with these really amazing fishermen.

For the first week or so, I got a lot of weird looks. For one – there are very few tourists that stay in Bonete for longer than a few days, and it’s extremely rare to see any Americans. So a gringo staying for a month was confusing for the people there. However I gradually started to integrate – surfing with the locals, drinking beers with the old folks at the little bar at night, and even going to a few church services.

Marcelo, the centerpiece of the doc, was also a very shy guy. He is a man of few words, and was at first hesitant to open his life to me…even more hesitant about sharing with the camera. By the end of January however, right when my Portuguese was decent, he opened up and allowed me to film two days at his fishing outpost and conduct a single interview. It was a learn-on-the-fly experience in every way, and I’m privileged to have spent quality time with such an inspiring person in such a beautiful place.”

And here’s the link to the video again if ya missed it:

Support Midd Filmmakers: “Cowgirls”

Today is the last day to support a Middlebury student/alumni project on Kickstarter! Midd grad Ben Kramer ’13.5 is working on an epic filmmaking project this summer along with Maddie Lawler, Anna Carol, Tito Son, and Sarah Briggs (all ’14.5) and they could use your support.  Here’s a brief excerpt from the project description, but check out the page for much more info and to donate.

American folklore is anchored by legends of the frontier and the men who tamed it. The cowboy is iconic—we see him in John Wayne, the Marlboro man, the hero who rides into the sunset. But there is a glaring absence in the cultural documentation of the American West… what about the cowgirl?

Our vision is to create a documentary about Claudia Ogilvie and Patti Hayes, two cowgirls who over fifty years of riding horses and working together in the stock industry of the West have formed a life long friendship. These two women grew up doing anything that a cowboy could do and oftentimes doing it better.

A note from Kramer – “The topics, characters and landscape all have a ton of potential and although we’ve already reached our goal, each and every donation helps the final product. Everything is appreciated. Hop on board before it’s too late!”

I can’t wait to see the final product. For those loyal readers who might know me (tutankhamen), you know that I have graduated. I will submit my official resignation from middbeat soon, I promise. But for now I can’t help but promote awesome student projects like this.  

A Public Letter: To the Drunk Bro Who Pissed on My Lawn Last Night

Here’s a letter from Ben Savard we were asked to publish about him confronting someone pissing outside his window last night:

To the Drunk Bro Who Pissed on My Lawn Last Night,

I hope this letter receives you well. As indicated by the address of this letter, you were pretty drunk when we met, so I’m not sure you remember me. Let me recount for you the circumstances under which we became acquainted:

At about 2 am last night, I was sitting in one of the first floor rooms in Weybridge House studying for a geology final when I heard you and friend walk down Weybridge St. It was a warm night, so the window was open and your boisterous, slurred speech carried well into the room. Given that it’s pretty late into finals week, it seemed natural that you (and many other students) were spending Thursday night drinking and celebrating what I hope has been a successful semester. It didn’t bother me that you and your friend were having a good time as you walked past.

However, it piqued my curiosity when I heard you stop walking and continue your conversation immediately outside the window. And I will admit, I found it rather disrespectful to look up from my computer and see you: legs spread, dick in hand, leaning back confidently as you urinated on a tree. So disrespectful in fact, that I stuck my head out the window and yelled “ARE YOU PISSING ON MY LAWN?”
“Uhh, yeah!” You told me, shaking off the last drops and zipping up.
“Where do you live?”
“So you live 300 yards away, but you decided to piss on my lawn instead?”
Candid and terse as ever, you replied “…Yeah.”

This is where you decided to take our conversation in a new direction. Despite the fact that you could have left at any second, you felt enough guilt on some level to offer reparations.
“What if I give you 20 bucks? Is that what you want?” Continue reading

Before you leave, be sure to check out beyond the green


New cover art by Tamir Williams ’16

The new(ish) blog beyond the green ”seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus.” If you haven’t seen the blog, check it out, read every post, submit your own, and see some coverage in The Campus.

Here’s a word from an anonymous someone involved with BTGthere are some great new posts up on beyond the green. be sure to check out our site before you leave campus – and throughout the summer! btg will continue to operate over the summer, accepting and posting submissions (though possibly more slowly). see the site for more ways to get involved and “like” us on Facebook.

Tim Garcia’s Documentary Explores Experiences of Students of Color at Middlebury

Tim Garcia ’14 released this video online today after a premiere screening last week and another screening today hosted by the CCSRE and accompanied by a follow-up discussion. The broad range of contributors (clips from 37 interviews are included) makes this film a powerful statement about the exclusionary environment here. It’s certainly not your typical film thesis. Here’s Tim’s synopsis:

“Abroad at Home: Accounts of the Invisible” is a short documentary that takes a look into student life at Middlebury college by exploring experiences of Students of Color. The aim of the project is to examine the various narratives that exist rather than sticking to the single narrative that usually exists when discussing the “racial experience” at Middlebury and at College in general. By incorporating multiple voices and faces, this project attempts to allow these wide range of experiences to stand on their own. In addition, “Abroad at Home” wants to be critical of Middlebury college and present voices that tend to be unheard or worse tokenized. There were 37 interviews completed for this project.

Here’s one excerpt from an interview with Day Williams ’14.5 but be sure to watch the whole film.

Numbers don’t do anything, the campus is still exactly the same.  And now instead of having like five students who are uncomfortable you have like two hundred.  But I think it’s just hard because it’s something that…I feel like no one is engaging with it but students of marginalized identities and those are the students who don’t get a voice. So there’s no reason I should hear all this campus buzz about the curriculum changing to add an Arabic major and to add a food studies minor and making hires toward that. And then there has been 30, 40, 50 years of proposals to have some sort of ethnic studies, have some sort of minority studies, Africana studies, Latino American studies…and silenced. ‘We can’t hire another person, there’s no interest.’

Share your thoughts below. 

NEW MUSIC from Innocent Tswamuno

Innocent Tswamuno ’15 needs no introduction. Today he released some new music to add to his ever-growing repertoire of hits. If you haven’t been keeping up with Inno’s music this year, tak a minute to listen to these tracks: Catch Me, You Got Me, Together, and M.O.N.D.A.Y. (Dwayne Scott’s mixtape). Here’s the scoop on these two new tracks:

The two singles are off of my album which is going to come out sometime this summer: Explosions and Summertime With You. They were both sung and produced by me in my dorm room in forest. Tariq Mansour ’16 helped with lyrics for Explosions and Dwayne Scott ’17 mixed Summertime With You. If people like the stuff they can like my Facebook artist page and Share with their friends too. I appreciate the love and support.

Keep on doing what you do, Innocent. Can’t wait for your album to drop!

Get a fair price for your textbook

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.21.00 PM

As the semester comes to a close, you’re probably wondering what to do with all your used books (if you don’t want to keep them).  Peter Frank, a 2012 Wesleyan Grad, made this site to help you get the best and fairest price for your book. Basically, it compares the buyback offers from sites like Amazon, Chegg, ValoreBooks, Cash4Books, etc., and also gives the user an option to list the book on our free exchange. Here’s some more info from the company’s blog:

Each semester, college bookstores and buyback companies around the country buy droves of books at rock-bottom prices.  Their captive market is stressed by finals, eager to head home, and just wants to get rid of the books.  The immediate cash and convenience overpowers the distaste of being obviously underpaid. Continue reading

Senior Thesis Films Available Online

In case you missed the screening event last week, here’s four of the videos that were shown (more to come later this week). Some great work from everyone involved and excellent material for procrastination.  Enjoy and comment below if you like what you see!

Maddy Lawler and Anna Mackey: As Happy As Possible

Sinead Keirans: Collage – Discussing the Problem

Miriam Nielsen: Bikes

Benjamin Savard: Give In



Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 11.06.17 AMI’d never heard of the TBS hit series King of the Nerds until the casting staff directly contacted middbeat in hopes of casting Middlebury students for their next season - this is an incredible opportunity. And what is this show all about?

King of the Nerds is primed to become television’s ultimate nerd-off. The show invites competitors spanning the full nerd spectrum to come together to face challenges that will test their intellect, ingenuity, skills and pop-culture prowess. The nerds will first compete as teams before moving on to individual challenges, all with the goal of being named the quintessential master of all things nerdy.

The show is has completed two highly successful seasons and is casting for the third. Basically, they’re looking to compile a bunch of super smart kids and make them compete in totally absurd “nerdy-based” challenges like Robot Dodgeball, Nerdiocart and a Science Fair. Not sure if you’re “nerdy” enough? Associate Producer Brian Scully wants to encourage you that King of the Nerds is looking to re-claim, diversify, and celebrate the term “nerdy” – they don’t just mean bio and math majors (while you’re more than welcome too!), they’re looking for anyone with any unique obsession with anything that works the brain – be it academics, science, robotics, fandom, comics, rubik’s cube, engineering, sci-fi, anime, you name it.

In previous seasons competitors have reigned from top undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities nationwide. While Midd has not yet been featured on KOTN, Associate Producer Brian Scully is eager to see a Midd participant this year, as he was a huge fan of Sophie Clarke’s ’11 fierceness, wit and intelligence on Survivor: South Pacific, and even remarked that this Midd grad was “one of his favorite reality winners ever.” 

Casting for season three is going on now, and ending soon, so if you have any interest please email the casting team at kingofthenerdscasting@gmail.comSeason three will be shot during the summer, so you will not miss out on any classes. AND JUST A REMINDER, IF YOU WIN YOU’RE LOOKING AT A $100K PRIZE. Just think of the Two Bros nachos that would buy…

For any questions or concerns about the casting process, email

For more information about King of the Nerds check out these sites:
official TBS page:
official Facebook page:
official Twitter account:
official casting Twitter account: