User talk:Moishe Rosenbaum

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Hi. Weren't you here before? Certainly I remember a similar handle doing a bit of good work, probably before the restart nearly three years ago.

You'll find quite a lot of material in 3760 articles here, particularly the Book and Annotations pages, as well as in The L-Space Web and other sites listed in Fandom. Whenever our AgProv shows up again he'll likely have ideas - a few off the top of my head:

  • Comparison to Jonathan Swift, Miguel de Cervantes, discussion of parody in general; parody vs satire.
  • Comparison to modern observational comics: I've always thought that George Carlin did much the same kind of work in a short, punchy stand-up format without the plotting and character development.
  • Probably my favorite device of Pterry's (your wife might have a name for it) was his knack of telling a story without action words, just describing the resulting scene so that you knew what happened without explanation.

Good luck spreading the word. --Old Dickens (talk) 01:11, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

Hi, Old Dickens... You're right that I worked here a bit one summer, in the Time When Things Were Otherwise And The Moon Was Different, I suppose. Good to be back. I never thought of the Carlin comparison, but it seems apt. Thanks for the welcome, and the comments.Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 19:53, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

A football legend called Moishe Rosenbaum.... I can see the humour here. Apparently one member of England's 1966 World Cup squad was ambiguously Jewish, and Liverpool's world dominating squad of the late 1980's boasted Israeli international Ronnie Rosenthal, whilst Tottenham Hotspur are based in the most Jewish part of North London and are nicknamed The Yids (by their own fans... they take pride in a Jewish identity of club and area) .. but that's pretty much it.... welcome back to our fellowship. The only idea that occurs off the top of my head:

  • Charting the evolution of the standard "monster" types through the history of the Discworld novels. From their roots in folklore, other peoples' fantasy fiction, and perhaps in tabletop gaming. How the vampire evolves in Discworld, for instance, from versions recognisable by Bram Stoker and F.W. Murnau through Hammer Horror films (Christopher Lee), to Anne Rice's navel-gazing angst-ridden creation, to Whitley Streiber's, and on to 1990's film interpretations such as Gary Oldman's 1992 film version. The way the legend is universal and vampires are in virtually everyone's folklore - but methods for despatching them vary wildly and ridiculously, as do the powers the individual vampire can call upon. (Count Notfaratou v the Count de Magpyr v Otto Chriek v Sally von Humpeding). The idea that the blood-lust is a craving and one addiction can replace another.... and how, if taken past absurdity, everything is fair game for humour.
  • You could do similar exercises for trolls, elves, golems, werewolves, et c, as presented in the Discworld. How trolls finesse the sunlight thing in a civilization which has evolved deep-freezes and barrier cream. In our world, people of different races find it hard to get along. How would a world with a dozen different sentient species work - how do they all coexist? --(Unsigned comment by AgProv, who has been away a few days and forgotten the drill, 19 Jul 2015)
Thanks, AgProv! I really like the idea of using the theme of species evolution, from trope to modern Ankh-Morporian. That would give me an excuse to dig into the folklore a bit. That's something I know a wee bit about, but not really a whole lot.
I've used this wiki to look at annotations, especially of the recent books. The old APF seemed reasonably comprehensive for older books; there seems to be plenty of room in this wiki for expansion of annotations beyond APF and what's here already. That's probably what I'll work on when I have a chance. Of course, annotations are really, really tough -- every time I dig into what seems to be a straightforward reference, I get what could be an entire research paper. So there's an idea for a course right there. Sure, the Beverly Hills Cop scene in Men at Arms couldn't be more obvious, but what if anything is the historical basis for Moist von Lipwig? And who are all the roundworld characters amalgamated into William de Worde? Usually, the simplistic answer is too simplistic.
I got myself a hard copy of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, which Sir Terry said he used extensively. He wrote the introduction to the edition I have. Between that, The Folklore of Discworld, this wiki, and just the general internet, there seems to be all sorts of background information on the Discworld species, and how Pratchett uses and references them. Do youall know of any other specific sources I should be aware of?
And Moishe owns a fantasy *american* football team, i.e. Robot Rugby. That said, I'm spending August in London with my family on sabbatical. I'm going to spend a good bit of time digging into (English) football culture, attending games, touring grounds, etc. When I broadcast baseball and american football, I'm drawing on three-plus decades of experience listening to and watching games. I've only been following association football carefully since 2011 -- haven't missed watching more than a couple Arsenal games in that time. So I think Moishe is going to have to deal this season with a new co-owner, one who doesn't understand why the referee is dressed like a Newcastle supporter, and why he doesn't hand out red cards for some of those bone-crunching tackles. Thanks for the comments and ideas!Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 16:57, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

Hi Moishe! In agreement on Annotations. I've been re-reading Monstrous Regiment and found a couple of obvious ones that I'd missed the last time I picked the book up - every time I come back with a fresh eye, there's always more. Which is a tribute to the depth of Terry Pratchett's original vision. I realised with the thing about "the barefoot army" that there's a lot to be mined from historical accounts of armies pushed past the point of desperation, but still fighting - when a country is running on empty, but still refuses to give up. The thing about the Confederacy (no boots, but they were potentially in ample supply let down by inter-State bickering and bad supply) was just the beginning of it and I could have gone on for paragraphs more - an example of one little throwaway line opening up a thesis. Which is also part of the Pratchett genius - how he must have read thousands of words on a fringe topic but condenses it all down into six or seven words of telling detail. Some of my annotations make the association, then waffle on in proving it and adding detail.... the thesis is there, in IKEA self-assembly form.

Taking the "barefoot army" throwaway line - on the surface it concisely describes an Army at its last gasp which has run out of everything but is still adamant in refusing to surrender. But that's not all there is to it, when you read about one state in the Confederacy that easily made enough footwear for every Confederate soldier and then some over - but refused to issue them beyond their own State. And about a chaotic supply system incapable of getting kit where it was needed - the Confederacy also had ample artillery that was just parked up doing nothing a long way from the front lines. Things have a surface level, then a level beneath that, then a third stratum of reference... There's a story about the British Army general who read Monstrous Regiment, and demanded to know how somebody who has never been in the Army could write such an accurate book, full of all the little telling details only squaddies are supposed to know. Terry replied that to his best knowledge, Homer had never been a hoplite or gone to war with a Greek army - he just did his research, and asked people who had. Then wrote the Iliad.

On characters and monsters: take a look at British Isles folk music. Steeleye Span, for instance, one of Terry's great musical influences. You could discuss the philosophical and gender differences between witches and wizards - then play them the Span's take on the old ballad, The Two Magicians. This one song runs right through Equal Rites and fuels one climactic scene. Seven Hundred Elves is about Elves as they really were and are seen in Lords and Ladies. (touches iron). Long Lankin is a ballad about a mediaeval psychopathic killer. When you listen to it, you know why one Elf gets called Lankin. The Span do Scottish stuff too as well as English. Parcel of Rogues is tinged with Feegle-speak. And, more crucially, with Feegle-think.

Remembering to sign off with my name - I'm too used to tvtropes formatting, it's spoiling me for here! AgProv (talk) 00:02, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Cool... I'm American, and I never made the Confederate connection. But it seems dead on. I just read this morning the annotation about Snuff and Samwise's scouring. Never occurred to me, clear once it's pointed out.
The school where I teach performed the musical "Catch me if you can", which is based on a 2002 movie of the same name. The whole time I could think of nothing but that I was watching the prequel to Going Postal. Frank Abagnale *is* Moist von Lipwig, at least to me. I know that Moist is an amalgamation of an archetypical character, of course, not based on any one person; this wiki postulates several historical Moists, and I've no doubt Sir Terry was aware of all of them. As you say, one character / line / event leads to a long thesis.
Keep the thoughts, annotations, and ideas coming, please, AgProv and others. I'm headed to London on sabbatical during the month of August. Among the many goals for the month is some in-country background on some of the books. (I'm also umpiring a bit for the London Mets; I'm trying to get in touch with soccer radio broadcasters to talk shop and learn about their craft. And we'll do all the typical touristy things, like walk across the Bridge of Size.)Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 12:41, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Moist von Lipwig. Now there isn't just a thesis, there's a full scholarly treatise. My very first search threw up all the people listed as Annotations, especially the guy who sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap. Twice. And that's just scratching the surface... My suggestion here is to become acquainted with Harry Harrison's sci-fi comedy series, The Stainless Steel Rat. In which there is a con-man, one of the last criminals left in the galaxy, thirty thousand years in the future. He refuses to kill people, only applies corrective violence if there is no alternative, and prefers separating people and their money in some very inventive non-confrontational ways. Jim di Griz has a ball as he cons and buncos his way between planets, until the day he is picked up by a Macchiavellian schemer called Inskipp who offers him an Angel. Either join the Galactic Special Corps and use your skills for good, or get something like a frontal lobotomy (only nastier) to burn the criminal tendencies out of your brain. No pressure, your choice. In the series, he gets a girlfriend, later wife, with serious anger management issues. ("Slippery Jim" and the spiky Angelina go on to have twin sons, but Pratchett, alas, did not get this far with Moist and Adora Belle.) Narrating the novels, Jim diGriz describes the tricks he uses and how they work and an extremely moist-like voice emerges. I have a distinct feeling Terry Pratchett had read the Stainless Steel Rat books, as Moist von Lipwig is pretty much a Jim diGriz in a different setting. Harrison could be on the summer reading list alongside "Going Postal". AgProv (talk) 20:47, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

This is more a discussion of Harry Harrison, of course, but it leads in to the Discworld idea that writers and readers come and go but stories and characters persist, wandering the multiverse like the Music and showing up everywhere like Dibblers. TP borrowed unabashedly from myth and folklore and pop culture and other writers, realising that there aren't any new stories, just new and occasionally better ways of telling them. Shakespeare did the same, with more limited resources.
All of which reminds me of an idea I had a while ago for a section (category?) of literary discussion and criticism of the works focussing on the style and techniques rather than the bare elements of the books. I didn't know how to pitch it or organise it in a wiki format and still don't. Probably it would need Osiris to create a new namespace, at least. This page threatens to become a version of the theme and we should probably come up with some alternative before poor Moishe needs an archive. I attach my original thoughts and invite suggestions on where this might be moved from his user page.
(December 21, 2012) New Category?
We have often dealt in literary criticism and meta-analysis of the stories in various discussion pages. An idea occurs to me for a category of articles in this vein describing and analysing The Author's style, devices, influences, strengths and foibles.
I worry, though, about the danger of ill-thought-out, half-baked opinion (which I have decried for years in the general pages) but we have some competent critics (many more on the old roster) who can provide some insight. The old discussion pages have been installed in the new wiki and these could be scavenged for ideas. I would suggest that these articles be required to provide paragraphs of reasoning and examples, one-or-two-sentence statements of opinion disqualified. Then there's the problem of enforcing that rule: annotation was once to be restricted to annotation pages as well.
Should these be organised as conventional pages, where topics can be modified and expanded with discussion in Talk pages or as individual essays like critiques in other media? Should it be tried at all? --Old Dickens (talk) 01:06, 24 July 2015 (UTC) sounds. No, I couldn't come up with a plan either. Anyway, although it may be late for the school year, we forgot this. --Old Dickens (talk) 19:06, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
I like the idea I just don't have a good idea on how it would be set up which would be rather important. I feel that it could get messy very quickly if not set up well. --Zdm (talk) 00:07, 22 September 2015 (UTC)
That's the problem. It needs something more moderated than the wiki format. --Old Dickens (talk) 00:35, 22 September 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for link to old newsgroup discussions!

Hey, Old Dickens, thanks for that link above! I was a lurker on the old alt.books.pratchett for a while in the first years of the Century of the Anchovy, so I remember a few of these. I was especially interested in the "Nasty Carrot" thread, and the reevaluation of Jingo showing that perhaps Vetinari's "little package" was originally intended to be quite a bit more potent... fantastic analysis. Thanks for the link; I'll spend some time today reading through these old friends.Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 21:02, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

Trip to London in August

As mentioned above, I spent the month of August in London on sabbatical. Much of what I did involved football -- I went to Arsenal and Fulham games, toured Wembley and the Emirates, toured Wimbledon and Lord's Cricket Ground (okay, the last two aren't football, I suppose.)

But two discoveries were enormous fun for this Pratchett fan, though probably they're old news to those who live in London. Both the Greenwich Observatory and the British Museum include a full room on the history of clockmaking. I felt like I was in Jeremy Clockson's workshop! And then when I saw the atomic clock, well... it took a lot for me not to smash it, though at least it wasn't in a glass case.

The other discovery was at London's otherwise rather pitiful science museum. I teach physics, and I have rather high and exacting standards for a science museum. Most of the place made me retch. However, one room was exquisite... on the top floor, well removed from the main displays, I found the history of calculation machines. This physicist was enthralled. (It helped that in every other room of the museum you couldn't move for tourists and their strollers, but I only saw about four other folks in this room, as if it were the Dwarf Bread Museum.

The display included small slide rules from the 1200s, "difference engines" that did basic calculus, but took up a cube two meters on a side, early mechanical calculators and cash registers... I spent 90 minutes in this room, without my wife, who chose instead to bury herself in a fire ant mound.

But the best, best part is... they had The Glooper. Really. An authentic water-based economic simulator with oddly-shaped valves representing taxes, interest rates, etc. Just like in the book. I know that the Master himself must have stood where I stood, watching it gloop, imagining the Hubert who created it, salting it away in his mind for use in a future book... now THAT's a religious experience.  :-) Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 21:01, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

Real editing

It's great to see someone actually participating in the wiki, with discussion of reasons and references, rather than just posting graffiti. It takes me back to the old days; I wish we had a hundred more editors working for the wiki rather than their own gratification. As an administrator, I'm reluctant to reject the blather out of hand because, with the minimal staff and participation, it would be my blog rather than a wiki. I hope for some consensus from the community, but since The Long Drive graffiti artists have outnumbered serious students. Do keep up the good work. --Old Dickens (talk) 03:13, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Thank you kindly... much appreciated. My Pratchett course isn't happening anytime soon, 'cause I'm co-teaching a new journalism course this year. I suspect that _The Truth_ will be involved somewhere -- I just re-read it (again). This is a great site, one that I use regularly for reference; I'm happy to help out. Keep up your own good work. :-) Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 12:18, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

The good ole spam filter

Your edit wasn't the problem in Talk:Book:Snuff/Annotations; the dreaded "outlöök" was there already. I patched it. --Old Dickens (talk) 22:35, 27 July 2016 (UTC)


Why this intermittent campaign against the Dwarves? I never liked the Disney version myself. --Old Dickens (talk) 03:55, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

Agreed on the Down with Disney Dwarfs position. Hi Ho.
I'm under the impression that Pratchett always spelled Dwarfs with an f, while Tolkien used "Dwarves". The wikipedia lead makes a point of this; I don't recall any exceptions from the Discworld text offhand. A bit of further googling comes up with some language blogs citing Tolkien saying that his use of Dwarves rather than Dwarfs was somewhat of a mistake; I can't tell how reliable that statement is, but it shows up several places; interesting.
Anyway, I've been changing when I see the v-spelling not due to personal preference, but to -- as I understand -- accurately represent what TP wrote. I'll look through a few of my books to verify what's in the text. I'm certainly not on a Lord Rust-style campaign to rid the D&TPW of the word "drarves"... let me know if youall disagree with my reasoning, and I'll quit changing things.Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 20:01, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

If the text is a quote of something TP wrote, of course, it should follow the original as with other variations. If the original contributor here preferred "Dwarves" or "aluminium" or "theater" we have the convention that later edits should follow the original and spelling is not edited for personal preference. (See Help:Editing#Language, which I notice doesn't get a link atop a Talk page.)

The first three books used "Dwarves" (see Equal Rites) then there was a hiatus and when they came up again they were "Dwarfs". I was asking in Talk:Dwarfs if anyone ever heard why it changed. --Old Dickens (talk) 01:06, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

Fair enough. I'm not very knowledgable about the early books. Originally used spelling it is. Thanks!Moishe Rosenbaum (talk) 02:48, 13 March 2017 (UTC)


I have some well intentional advice for you. I have to admit, you produce some fantastic edits and exceptional hard work around here. Keep up the good work and keep moving forward! --Yoshi (Talk to me!) 14:10, 18 November 2019 (UTC)