manularity = M = marginal

marbles pl.n.

[from mainstream "lost all his/her marbles"] The minimum needed to build your way further up some hierarchy of tools or abstractions. After a bad system crash, you need to determine if the machine has enough marbles to come up on its own, or enough marbles to allow a rebuild from backups, or if you need to rebuild from scratch. "This compiler doesn't even have enough marbles to compile hello world."

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

The mother of all marble games is without a doubt rolley hole, a game invented in the early days of colonization of Tennessee and Kentucky. Rolley hole is to other marble games as chess is to checkers. The game is, in simple terms, a combination of golf, croquet, and marbles. It is an exacting sport, a game which requires dexterity, concentration, an in depth perception of spacial relations, and above all, practice.

Rolley hole is played in teams of two. The object is to move your team's marbles across the playing field, landing it in three holes, one on each side of the field, and one in the middle. And whilst you are doing it, it is usually helpful to prevent the other team from doing so by shooting your marble at theirs to knock it off the field. The game would still be impressive, even if it were not played on fields of up to twenty feet in length.

One who is a master of rolley hole is a master of all marble games. If this were not evident in the skill required to play the game, in 1991 the marble champions of Great Britain came to America to challenge the Rolley Holers to a game of British marbles. In short, the British were creamed, by a nine year old and his father, neither of whom had ever even won the local championship. Then, in 1992, a team of six Kentuckian Rolley Holers went to England to compete in an international tournament. There, they defeated every single team. Dutch, British, French, and even other Americans were utterly destroyed in landslide victories.

So that's a basic summary of rolley hole, the most intense marble game out there. Think you've got some weird hobbies?

Marbles is also a classic internet java game. You are given a grid (generally 10X7) filled with different colored marbles (usually 5 colors) and told to clear the grid by clicking on marbles of the same color that are touching. When this is done, the remaining marbles will fill the created hole. You continue to play until there are no like colored marbles touching such that none can be removed.

The standard scoring is N(N-1) for the number of marbles you clear in one turn. There is usually a bonus for having 5>=marbles at the end.

The scoring (for those of us not mathematically inclined) tends to go like this:

 Number of marbles cleared               Points
               2                             2
               3                             6
               4                            12
               5                            20
               6                            30
               7                            42
               8                            56
               9                            72
              10                            90
               .                             .
               .                             .
               .                             .
              70                          4930*

*if you clear all marbles, there is a 100 point bonus, which makes it 4930 instead of 4830. The bonuses break down like this:

    Marbles Left              Bonus Points
         4                         20
3 40
2 60
1 80
0 100

A good example of the game can be found at
Marbles is the thirteenth album by Marillion, released in April, 2004.

Like Anoraknophobia before it, Marillion had a pre-order campaign, this time to raise money for promoting the album and tour. People who signed up received a special 2 disc edition of the album, in a slipcover with a 128-page booklet, containing original artwork as well as all the names of the contributors.

Taking two years to write and record, and under the hand of Dave Meegan producing, the band created what is now considered one of their most artistically successful and profound albums. The combination of long tracks and themed Marbles vignettes gave the album progressive rock credentials, and songs like You're Gone and Don't Hurt Yourself proved to be good singles--the former reaching #7 on the UK singles chart on the strength of fans buying multiple formats. A stunt to be sure; but a stunt that got them a lot of press attention and helped sales of the album.

The band also was able to undertake a large tour on the strength of the pre-order campaign, traveling to many sites in Europe they hadn't been to for several years. They also went on their first North American tour since 1997.

Track listing (two-disc campaign edition and version):

< Anoraknophobia | Somewhere Else >

What if thoughts
were like marbles on the floor
rolling over planks of consciousness?

Watch them collide.

What happens to the pennies
fallen on the sidewalk
like copper snowflakes?

Turqouise rust in the grass.

Which tells you more
the book
or the hand that wrote it?

Pages yellowed, joints arthritic.

Where are the children who cry
watching their balloon
fly into the heavenly abyss?

Mother never cried.

Why does she scowl
when the sun transforms the morning fog
into golden miasma?

Weekends are far too short.

Who decides
what you become
and where you end?

Collect the marbles.

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