Scholarly Roadkill

Mitch’s Blog

Welcome to Scholarly Roadkill

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mitch’s blog, Scholarly Roadkill, is part of a consulting business, Scholarly Roadside Service, detailed on this website.The blog will cover topics I'm interested in, not only scholarly publishing, but archaeology, dance, the university, writing, scholarly life, and the absurdity of the 21st century universe.  We have no facility to sign up followers, but if you click Like on our Facebook page, you’ll get announcements of new posts. Guest blogs welcomed, just let me know what you want to write about. 

How a Copyedit Review Ruined My Day and Enriched My Life

Friday, May 22, 2020

One of every author’s nightmare days. The copyedited manuscript comes back pointing out all the inconsistencies, poorly drawn phrases, missing references, and unintelligible sentences. (Why didn’t the copyeditor understand that sentence?) That day was yesterday. Rather than it being a faceless edited file coming from the publisher’s automated workflow program, I had the advantage that my copyeditor was Michael Jennings, with whom I have worked for well over a decade at Left Coast. His eye is as good as it gets and I know I can trust his edits.

Michael’s copyediting was for the book I just edited from…

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Truth is in the Basement

Thursday, May 07, 2020

If this were an average street in Boston, Dino and Joy’s food truck would not elicit a second glance. Drinks on one side, sandwiches and salads on the other. The grill for burgers and meat ball sandwiches is in the back.  Dino does the grilling, Joy collects the money. And have for the past 27 years. Or 57, if you count the fact that Dino’s father did this for three full decades before they took over.  No trendy, flash-in-the-pan kale burritos here. Just basic Boston comfort food.

Why a second glance? Because Dino, with his South Boston r’s bouncing off…

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Culling the Copies

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Hoarding is in an archaeologist’s DNA. After all, that is our job. Find old stuff and hold onto it. It is the source of regular ridicule from my kids, for whom discarding something usually means just pushing the delete button. One of the chief “when are you ever gonna use this again?” taunts from my kids concern the bank of four overflowing filing cabinets in the garage, each a meter deep and 5 drawers high. What is in them?

Photocopies. Photocopies of articles, of chapters in books, of research papers sent to me, of articles from National Geographic, Antiquity, and…

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Dreaming in Tarakhun

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I had been to Tarakhun, I just didn’t remember it well. Until today.

It was a late stop on our three day trip to the Afghan/Iran/Pakistani border as part of our archaeological work in Afghanistan in 1975. A memorable trip in the company of Khan Hajji Nafaz. The desert between our field camp and the border was a no fly zone unless you were accompanied by Hajji Nafaz, who had family and political contacts all through the area. He knew which unmarked dirt tracks would get us to Jali Robat and the border station. He had Mohammad Osman,…

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The Backhouse Diary

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The name Captain Julius Brockman Backhouse of the Bengal Artillery is unfamiliar to most everybody, including me until a week ago. He served in the British Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1839-1842. An artillery expert, he moved back and forth between Afghanistan and British India doing training and whatever else artillery officers do. He survived the war, having left a diary of his time there that had been kept for over a century in the family. And, somehow, I’m now involved with Captain Backhouse, his descendants, and his diary.

If you were a British soldier in the First…

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Graduating to Old Person

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

For all the years I’ve performed as a dancer, I only ever acted in a stage play once. It was a lark in my last year of college with all my graduation requirements well in hand. The play was the only comedy written by Swedish playwright August Strindberg, a one-act called The First Warning. For Strindberg, “comedy” only meant that none of the characters committed suicide. I was the father in the play, being volleyed back and forth between his boring wife and a precocious teen who boards with them. Climax of the play is when his wife loses a tooth.…

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History as It is Happening

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Call me a nerd, but I like reading history. But not any old history. History as it is happening. My favorite book as a child was a history of World War I, written in 1917 before its outcome was known. On a week where only the third ever presidential impeachment was filed, I dived into one of the books on my shelf containing bound issues of Harper’s Monthly from November 1860 to April 1861. Mixed in with serialized novel by Bulwer-Lytton and drawings of the latest women’s hoop skirt fashion is the section called Monthly Record of…

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Jinxed: Two Tales of Istanbul

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

“You jinxed us,” said Becky with dagger eyes. 

“This has happened to you before in Istanbul. You jinxed us.”

We were all standing before the Departures board at Istanbul airport searching for the gate for our flight to San Francisco. Our dance festival in Macedonia was over and we seven were anxious to get home.  Flight 79 was nowhere to be seen among the hundreds going to various other saintly cities: San Antonio, Sao Paolo, St. Louis.

Becky was wrong, it wasn’t really my fault (hah, those words). Our flight from Skopje had departed an hour late, arrived even later,…

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Eagle Week

Sunday, July 28, 2019

It’s been a week of eagles. Best known, of course, is the golf club-wielding Russian bird who oversaw Trump’s speech to a conservative college group. While generated entirely by accident, it still represents the height of American political satire. Kudos to the poor now-unemployed program assistant who hurried too quickly in his Google search and ended up with the perfect image to frame the perfect idiot in a perfect speech to a perfect set of automatons. Good on you.

My own eagle story is a bit more compelling.

Earlier this week I’m biking to Coombs, BC, a small town 8…

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