robertisenberg

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Capture the Flag

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Capture the Flag from Robert Isenberg on Vimeo.

Each year, residents of Gloucester, Massachusetts celebrate the Fiesta of St. Peter. Part of the celebration is walking “The Greasy Pole,” wherein local men balance on a 40-ft. telephone pole and attempt to snatch a flag.

The : Ark captured some of the more dramatic attempts.

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Warm Rain

In India, Pittsburgh on June 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

From my Nature & Environmental Writing class. We were asked to maintain journals of environmental concerns. Photograph of reflecting pool in front of Grant Memorial, Washington, D.C.

It was 9 p.m., and I had to bike home. I had just enjoyed a successful rehearsal at my friend Jesse’s house. We had practiced some songs and sketches for our comedy show, and we could leave the house satisfied. But as I zipped myself into my windbreaker and started to unlock my bike, my friends frowned.

“Are…” Joe muttered. “Are you gonna be okay?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said.

“You sure?” Billy added.

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Excavation #7: The Book of Hours

In Pittsburgh on June 8, 2011 at 12:00 am

The Excavation series is excerpted from my MFA thesis, entitled Ruins. These short chapters deal with youthful imagination and an increasing desire to explore the world. Photograph of original deed to Castle Isenberg (then spelled “Ysenberg”).

Dr. Hearn sat at the head of the class, and he smiled his bullfrog smile. He was a bulbous and ugly man—his face pockmarked, his hands ruddy with veins. But I loved that he sat at a students’ desk like the rest of us. I loved his enthusiasm for cathedral arches and the carved faces that decorated doorways. And when he slipped his fingers into cloth gloves and pressed his hands on the cover of the Manuscript, I loved this astonishing gift—a 14th century Book of Hours.

This is very rare,” Dr. Hearn said, holding the book aloft. “European libraries are full of medieval books. You can visit any monastery and see thousands of volumes. But monks don’t like to part with their literature, so you don’t see many Books of Hours in North America.”

I watched in horror as Dr. Hearn held one leather cover, then let the rest of the manuscript flop open. The spine arced and the vellum pages fanned out. I nearly leapt from my desk, just to grab the book’s other half and keep the spine from breaking. But Dr. Hearn kept talking, as if this was a perfectly respectful way to treat a 700-year-old masterpiece. Read the rest of this entry »

Documentary: Dead Guy Walking

In Pittsburgh on June 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm

For Pittsburgh actors, playing a zombie is a right of passage. This short documentary explores the mirth and makeup that help create a living-dead horror film.

“Spineview” is currently filming in the Pittsburgh area. Visit popuppittsburgh.com/​ for more information.

Hail Storm

In Pittsburgh on June 4, 2011 at 12:00 am

From my Nature & Environmental Writing class. We were asked to maintain journals about environmental concerns. Photograph of frozen Allegheny River, taken from directly above.


I should’ve brought my bike, I thought bitterly as I dove into the rainstorm. Yes, I’d still get soaked, but at least the journey would end sooner. But I had no bike. Now I had a long road to walk, and the storm threatened to thicken.
            This was a typically harried day: Meet with Thesis Director, discuss My Future. Walk 1.2 miles to store to buy birthday gift. Walk 0.4 miles to another store to buy microphone. Arrive home, scarf down whatever was in the refrigerator, jump on bicycle and ride to Art Gallery. Emcee spoken-word show. Go home, write several thousand words and read an entire book by morning. Sleep for six hours, wake up, grade papers, head to work…

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Excavation #6: Dog Tags

In Pittsburgh on June 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

The Excavation series is excerpted from my MFA thesis, entitled Ruins. These short chapters deal with youthful imagination and an increasing desire to explore the world.  Photograph of potted plants made out of construction debris, called “Construction as Canvas,” created by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.

I found the dog tags on a sidewalk. There were two, joined with a beaded chain, and I stuffed them into the pocket of my army-jacket. I couldn’t even read the text etched into their metal. But I kept them for years.

Those first months I walked around Pittsburgh, I found all kinds of stuff on the ground—a hand-written letter, a photograph with burned edges, a bullet casing, a toy soldier, an odd sign. They all seemed significant, in those early days. The flotsam of past lives. Sometimes I picked them up and pocketed them. Other times I invested only a casual glance and moved on. Read the rest of this entry »