Commentary Series

Weekdays 7:55 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. Sundays at 10.55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers.  The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Commentary
11:06 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Guyon: Remembering Robin Williams

Actor and comedian Robin Williams touched many lives, including mine, and the first time was the most memorable.

I was a college student in the early 80’s and one of my favorite pastimes was going to comedy clubs where I saw many young comics who have since become household names, like Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld.

One night, a friend and I went to see comedian Barry Sobel, a rock star in the San Francisco comedy club scene and we were really looking forward to the show.

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Commentary
5:35 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Levin: Sue Moves On

At 90% complete, Sue is the largest, most intact and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. The Chicago Field Museum, after using an industrial CAT scan to examine the fossil, purchased Sue for $8.6 million at auction. Once the bones were painstakingly removed from their stone overcoat, each was cast in plastic. The fossil itself was assembled for exhibit in Chicago, and exact, full-size replicas of the nearly complete fossilized skeleton were created to tour around the United States and the world. One of them has been on display at the Montshire Museum in Norwich all summer.

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Commentary
3:35 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Lange: River Trail

The silver maple likes to get its feet wet. It grows in groves along silty river banks, hanging over the water. When it dies, or is undermined by the river, it often falls into the water. During floods, the river flows through its groves, easing the pressure on the valley below; and when the floods subside, they leave fresh layers of silt behind.

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Commentary
5:50 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Stafford: Freshtracks Road Pitch

Crossing Saxtons River covered bridge
Luke Stafford

I eased off the throttle of my 1971 Triumph Bonneville and turned into the parking lot of the Bellows Falls train station. This was no ordinary workday. I found myself cruising through a gauntlet of Ducatis, Harley-Davidsons and BMWs.

Men and women of all ages were easing out of their helmets and peeling off leather jackets. 10 minutes later, I was listening to a business pitch from an artist who needed investment money - to offset the expense of a huge woodworking router, so he could carve bear-shaped sculptures at a rapid clip and sell them quickly.

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Commentary
12:45 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Greene: Dyed In Vermont

“Friends don’t let friends craft with insipid yarns.” That’s the motto of Lisa Bass’s web-based business, White Birch Fiber Arts.

About a year ago, Bass posted pictures of a few skeins of her hand dyed self-striping sock yarn on the fiber site, Ravelry. Then, at the urging of an online acquaintance, she began selling them on Etsy, the crafters site; and they sold out quickly. Since early this year, Bass has sold more than 2000 skeins online, doubling her business every month. She now produces about 200 skeins in a two week cycle, assisted by her son.

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Commentary
12:22 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Slayton: Wendell Berry Birthday

Earlier this month about 40 Vermonters got together in a candlelit barn in Fayston to celebrate the 80th birthday of a Kentuckian who did not attend, the writer and farmer Wendell Berry.

Berry’s poems, essays and novels are part of the intellectual foundation of the American environmental movement. He has written that we humans must learn to live in closer harmony with nature, and that small-scale farming and locally grown food are a key part of any coherent environmental ethic.

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Commentary
4:55 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Spencer Rendahl: 'The Last Irene'

On Monday August 29th, 2011, I sat on a Seattle runway with my 5-year-old daughter next to me and my 20-month-old son on my lap in the middle seat of an overbooked airplane. Normally I’d dread the impending 6-hour flight, but that day I was grateful. Boston’s Logan Airport, where we’d land, had just reopened after tropical storm Irene.

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Commentary
12:50 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Wallis: Supermoon

Fall doesn’t officially begin until the autumnal equinox on September 22nd – and on the 9th, the third Supermoon of the summer will appear in the sky. And if you haven’t seen one yet, be sure to mark your calendar.

I find the moon’s path confusing. In our view at home, the Sun marches predictably with the seasons from North to South along the Spine of Mount Mansfield. The Moon however, appears capriciously, waxing and waning and darting about.

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Commentary
2:49 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Nadworny: The Money Effect

I’m reading a fascinating book by Daniel Kahneman called Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in economics for his work in psychology challenging the rational model of decision-making. His new book further examines the systems that drive the way we think - and act.

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Commentary
2:46 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Coffin: Summer Chores

My maternal grandparents, Hal and Anna Jillson, had a house and barn on two acres just outside South Pomfret. Years before, they’d farmed nearly 200 acres, but sold them to a Boston doctor as they aged. Gramp was now caretaker of the old place.

Some boyhood summer evenings I went to South Pomfret, often joining gramp listening to a Red Sox game. But he turned in about the fifth inning. “Call you at five,” he’d say as he went upstairs, his white hair softly glowing in the stair light.

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