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A Man and His Marbles
May 22, 2010 10:40 PM   Subscribe

"When on holiday, I ask him if he enjoys it, but he always misses his marbles. And it's difficult take that marble alley with us on holiday."
posted by pashdown (76 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw marbles being hand made on a kids' TV show the other day. I never realised the colours in the middle were also glass. I always thought it was coloured plastic or paper with glass poured around it.

Marbles were huge at my primary school. Loved my marbles.

But as I got older I noticed none of the younger kids doing it. I reckon my year coulda bin the last of the marble enthusiasts. Tellingly, a Japanese student in our year had a couple of hand held LCD Nintendo games that no one had ever seen before.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:48 PM on May 22, 2010


Wow. Just ... wow. So sad ... But. He's happy.
posted by woodblock100 at 10:53 PM on May 22, 2010


It's interesting though, to think about how this would be perceived differently if the video producer had approached it from another viewpoint. Instead of using 'sad' music, and emphasizing her loneliness, could the same raw footage have been used to make a totally upbeat clip? I wonder ...
posted by woodblock100 at 10:56 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


woodblock100: It works!
posted by shii at 10:58 PM on May 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


woodblock100, wow, exactly what I noted a few minutes ago in this thread.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:04 PM on May 22, 2010


a few minutes ago

Hah! Look at that ... Uncanny indeed!
posted by woodblock100 at 11:11 PM on May 22, 2010


I figured I just had to post in this thread...

I think this is beautiful in its own special way. The wife seems a bit sad and perplexed but she didn't come across as bitter to me. As far as obsessions go, I think it's pretty cool.

That guy looks so happy, like he's living his dream.
posted by marble at 11:27 PM on May 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Jesus Christ, that was depressing.

And now I'm off to play video games.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:50 PM on May 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


My thoughts on seeing this video were these. "It's just a Hornby train set in abstract, really, fascinating how they swish around corners, she must dye her hair and practice that facial expression OH SHIT HE GIVES THEM NAMES."

Kind of cool names though. And also rather abstract. Other people's obsessions always strike us as weird, I suppose, but this was beautiful too.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:26 AM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nice work if you can get it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:32 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


At least he doesn't keep his favorites up his ass at night.

As far as we know.
posted by pracowity at 12:58 AM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Y'know, that track and its accessories didn't build themselves. I'm sure he obsessed over its details for quite a long time, just as I'm sure it went through many iterations before it settled on its current form. I don't know if he did the construction himself or hired someone, but its very nicely done and perfect for what he wants.

This is strange, but no stranger than other monomanias I've heard about or even experienced myself. I've played poker for 14+ hours straight on many occasions and no one's going to make a documentary about me. (Of course, it would be even less interesting than watching marbles race around a track, but that's besides the point; it's just not that unusual.)
posted by mosk at 1:12 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm no psychiatrist, but that looks like Asperger's to me.
posted by Mokusatsu at 2:03 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


This guy is awesome, and seems happy. I think the video needs to be remixed. That said, I was sort of hoping for more of a Rube Goldberg-style marble run that climbed the walls, blocked the stairs and terrified the cat. Yeah, I was a really nerdy kid...
posted by embrangled at 2:22 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've played poker for 14+ hours straight on many occasions and no one's going to make a documentary about me.

If you sat around with friends, interacting with them, maybe drinking and smoking and joking and so on, that's known as having a good time, regardless of your excuse for sitting there. Fishing is another good excuse.

If you sat playing solitaire for 14+ hours straight on many occasions, you might have a problem.
posted by pracowity at 2:25 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's actually a fairly awesome machine he has there. Just saying.
posted by JHarris at 2:34 AM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why people are assuming the guy has a problem. He's retired; presumably he's led a happy and productive life, and now that he finally has time to spare, he's spending it with his marbles. It's no stranger than birdwatching or model train-set building or any of the other solitary, meditative hobbies with which old men have occupied themselves through the ages. If he was 22 and playing marbles in his mom's basement instead of going to work, then I might think he had a problem.
posted by embrangled at 2:36 AM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, how much less sad would this seem without the sad music to cue us? Not saying it wouldn't seem sad, but dear god the clip cues the audience shamefully, with the happy music at the start changing to the more somber tone as we hear he does this eight hours a day.
posted by JHarris at 2:36 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


How the hell else are we going to know which marbles can do two laps in 113 seconds? HOW?
posted by Jofus at 2:40 AM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well he seems to have some self-knowledge and even humour about the situation.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:42 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think he may have lost some ...
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:56 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


that could have been me...... I loved doing that stuff!

His smile says it all... there's nothing "wrong" with him... compared to a dour faced 72 year old retired GM exec...this guys got it made!
posted by HuronBob at 3:19 AM on May 23, 2010


Loved the guy. He did seem happy. It bothers me that people seem to think he's broken. At least he is not pursuing a destructive obsessions, like being an artist or a politician.
posted by sundri at 3:24 AM on May 23, 2010


Marbles are quite enjoyable to the senses. They're eye-catching (specularly reflective and brightly colored), pleasantly tactile (cool to the touch, weighty, smooth), and create interesting sounds when rolled together or upon different materials. I can appreciate this man's obsession.

That said, I wonder if it'd be possible to make a Turing Complete marble alley from building blocks, xylophone bars, and lasers? This bears further study!
posted by Kikkoman at 3:26 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: At least he doesn't keep his favorites up his ass at night.
posted by Free word order! at 3:36 AM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is not sad! Guy is 72 and has a fulfilling hobby. (So does his wife--needlepoint or embroidery or whatever.) Now: you fucking punks get off my marble track!
posted by CCBC at 3:38 AM on May 23, 2010


That was a touching documentary clip.
posted by joost de vries at 3:39 AM on May 23, 2010


In a very different vein: Arjan Ederveen - 30 Minuten. (Only in Dutch unfortunately)
posted by joost de vries at 3:43 AM on May 23, 2010


I wonder if the information he collects about the speed, size, etc. of the marble would be handy to scientists researching something that has to do with the motion of spheres or gravity.
posted by chillmost at 3:46 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I had a marble alley like that I might spend 8 hours a day on it.
posted by knapah at 3:48 AM on May 23, 2010


At least he is not pursuing a destructive obsessions, like being an artist ...

Hey!
posted by woodblock100 at 3:51 AM on May 23, 2010


Now I want a longer video of just those marbles rolling around the track. Fascinating. Preferrably in candlelight.
posted by Free word order! at 3:51 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have seen into the future...doesn't look too bad, actually.
posted by maxwelton at 3:55 AM on May 23, 2010


Sign me up for the Marble Guy Fan Club as well - the people seeing the marbles roll around the bend and not realizing how wicked cool this is are the ones that are wrong in the head.

As for the naming thing, my guess is he's got some random name generator action going on. If you're going to keep track of the dynamics of individual marbles, something which I for one as a physicist can totally get behind, at least it's more colorful and memorable than sequential numbering ( which I'm guessing he's already doing anyway ). The only thing that's puzzling is that the video shows a label being glued on the marble - wouldn't this mess up the rolling? He looks like a neat guy, I don't think he would go for gluing and ungluing labels every time he wants to take a marble for a spin around the track.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:59 AM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was expecting more of a Rube Goldberg-type machine, not... posterboard in a wood frame.
posted by Evilspork at 4:00 AM on May 23, 2010


How it's Made: Marbles

Very elaborate gravity driven rube goldberg type marble machine


Many more marble machines

posted by roaring beast at 4:43 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Was that in fact his wife? I thought that it might be a sister, or a well-preserved mother.
posted by Tullius at 5:15 AM on May 23, 2010


You found this sad? The most heart breaking and nearly unwatchable clip from the series "Man bijt hond" is "They speaken English". A retired father lives with his son and daughter-in-law. To maintain their privacy the son and his wife speak (what they regard as) English at the dinner table. I couldn't even watch it to the end.

There are lots of memorable clips from these series, but unfortunately hard to find with English subtitles.
posted by lioness at 5:18 AM on May 23, 2010


The marbles rolling around that track are a thing of great beauty. But I have a life-time fascination with anything involving rolling balls. As a little kid, I could watch bowling for hours, most fascinated by the ball return! When I was a teen, I first saw that kinetic sculpture with the billiard balls at Port Authority, NYC. Pinball too!

As someone else noted, I was hoping for and expecting a more elaborate marble raceway. I am not sure if I am disappointed, that wide ski slope of a raceway made beautiful motion. So elegant.
posted by Goofyy at 5:24 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"the son and his wife speak (what they regard as) English"

I could understand them. Was the heartbreaking bit the parts in Dutch?
posted by HopperFan at 5:27 AM on May 23, 2010


HopperFan, the heartbreaking part was not in the words but in the notion of making sure the father couldn't understand them. And when he does understand parts, denying that he understood.
posted by lioness at 5:42 AM on May 23, 2010


I'm no psychiatrist, but that looks like Asperger's to me. (INPBTLLATM)

Shouldn't this be on ask.metafilter?
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 5:53 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"in the notion of making sure the father couldn't understand them"

That didn't seem so strange to me - I'm sure that adult couples who have a parent living with them have to really work at carving out any moments of privacy.

"And when he does understand parts, denying that he understood."

Well, that's strange. And yes, heartbreaking.
posted by HopperFan at 6:14 AM on May 23, 2010


Marble Madness?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:30 AM on May 23, 2010


I find this more than a little sad. There are several things going through my mind:

1) Who cares which is the fastest marble? His need to time these events seems like a way to justify the activity. "Why have I spent 60 years doing this marble thing? Why to see which one is fastest!"

2) It seems like the labels might affect the speed of the marbles. Surely he knows this which leads me to think that he might be handicapping some of the marbles (short names go faster, long names slower). Why? Otherwise perhaps the marbles travel at nearly the same speed which would invalidate point 1 above.

3) Speaking of cheating, I didn't notice a stopwatch (not saying he doesn't use one but if you'll allow me these speculations...) which suggests perhaps he just times these things in his head which allows for more manipulations of the results. Of course there are other, more subtle, ways to manipulate the results.

4) Name giving. I wonder if there is significance to the names. Further if there is a "good guy" vs. "bad guy" situation. I could easily see him creating actual narratives about the marbles and their competitions against each other (even families of marbles in their long-standing feuds against other families).

5) Back to the cheating. It also occurs to me that where he starts the marbles might influence which ones finish the course with the best times.

6) I'm not convinced this makes him happy. Perhaps he feels a sense of relief seeing the marbles work their way through the course but that isn't the same thing as happiness. It's like the pressure builds up inside him to watch the marbles and he has to relieve that pressure.

7) From what I can remember of small children they seem to crave constant repetition. This is probably some kind of useful process for developing cognitive abilities but something we eventually leave behind. For this man that child-like need for repetition is like that part of his mind that should have let it go didn't.

A lot (all?) of this is speculation but I find it hard to believe that everything in this man's mental realm is functioning well or that he's even particularly happy. Another thought, I find the choice of a wide gently sloping course to be interesting. It gives one the chance to really see what is going on. Fast enough to require complete attention but slow enough see what is happening and providing a running mental commentary.
posted by bfootdav at 6:33 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wondered about the labels, too. Do his competitors retire after one race? 'Cause it might be neat to see if there are champion marbles -- ones that win more or have lower times over many heats.

Video not sad. Long live eccentricity! (in french)
posted by Trochanter at 6:46 AM on May 23, 2010


I kind of want to name my next cat "Felix, the Celebrity."
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:49 AM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


5) Back to the cheating. It also occurs to me that where he starts the marbles might influence which ones finish the course with the best times.

As far as I can tell, the marbles are launched by the escalator thing - this is about as reproducible as you can get.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:54 AM on May 23, 2010


PS: I wonder if he has one named Spartacus. I'd have one named Spartacus. He'd do the "Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant" thing in a squeaky voice.
posted by Trochanter at 6:57 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


This actually makes me miss my marbles. I used to have favourites too - tho I didn't name mine. I could probably get a few hours' enjoyment out of timing them and sorting them by speed. Maybe. (ok probably not)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:59 AM on May 23, 2010


As far as I can tell, the marbles are launched by the escalator thing - this is about as reproducible as you can get.

It looks like the escalator is slotted so some of the marbles might benefit from having the inside track. Still, it's a lot of speculation on my part and meant to suggest he might have a desire for certain outcomes and has the means to fudge the results. Of course his process could be entirely on the up and up but that doesn't answer why needs to record the results. It is a very interesting situation regardless.
posted by bfootdav at 6:59 AM on May 23, 2010


Hey, at least the wife knows about his hobby. My grandfather built houses on the weekends as a hobby, and kept at least one of them a total secret from gran, who did not approve of the hobby. (I've always wondered how she didn't notice him coming home smelling of sawdust and work-sweat on the weekends.)
posted by dabitch at 7:10 AM on May 23, 2010


For more weird Belgians (with no sad music), see the wonderful series Strip Tease, unfortunately very hard to find with english subs.
posted by robinhoudt at 7:10 AM on May 23, 2010


I saw this on Reddit yesterday and didn't know whether to find it sad or happy. It's sad that he seems to have wasted his life, but on the other hand he looks happier than most people I've seen. Also, his marble track is a thing of beauty and, last night while I was trying to go to sleep, I began to wonder what would happen to it and his marbles after he died.
posted by cropshy at 7:47 AM on May 23, 2010


So he's obsessive about his marbles. So what? Isn't that what you're supposed to do after you retire, find a hobby? If he were golfing every day, or doing something social, I don't think there'd be as much negativity about his hobby. And he seems to enjoy his marbles.

My FIL plays bridge, and he is very good at it. When you devote yourself to just one thing, you do get better at it. And when you're retired, you can devote that time.

I'll probably end up as one of those crazy cat ladies, who knows all about her cats and their interests. And you know what? There are worse things.
posted by misha at 8:12 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


What does it say about me that I interpreted the woman as being his mother, not his wife?
posted by Gordafarin at 8:51 AM on May 23, 2010


In the video, he just randomly chucks the marbles into the escalator. Does he account for horizontal placement of the marbles? Has he checked whether different steps give different results? Does he do multiple identical runs to gauge uncertainty?

Dammit, now I'm going to have to obsessively build and operate a giant marble racetrack so I can get independent results.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:20 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's not really the marbles in themselves, it's what's going on in his head. Each run constitutes, in his imagination, a new episode in a vast baroque saga: a fascinating, wholly unpredictable series of interactions between extraordinary personalities in a series of fantastic worlds. The names on the marbles are the only tiny chink in the wall between worlds, providing some sparse and inadequate clues as to what's going on in there.
posted by Phanx at 9:31 AM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


chillmost: "I wonder if the information he collects about the speed, size, etc. of the marble would be handy to scientists researching something that has to do with the motion of spheres or gravity."

I think that unfortunately there is a flaw in his experiment : that bloody label that he sticks on the marble changes everything.

Btw, this is a metaphor for a number of things.
He's like a new kind of Sisyphus.
posted by nicolin at 10:08 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's sad that he seems to have wasted his life

I'm not trying to pick on you, but I kind of have a thing where I get a little annoyed when someone accuses someone of "wasting" their life. I mean, I understand why a person would make such an observation, based on commonly-held beliefs in our culture, but personally, in my head I try to question that sort of thought process and pick it apart and find I can just tear it to shreds (in my own estimation) when it involves someone who is not guilty of major destruction or something.

I'm just going to riff on this topic, but I want to state first that I am not accusing any specific person here of holding the views I argue against below.

Who gets to decide what a "waste" of a life is? What are the criteria, and how do you come up with them?

Some people might say disabled people's lives are wasted, but that strikes me as a pretty shitty manifestation of being stuck in your head and not able to understand what someone else's life is like, and it really just devalues other people's experiences in a really thoughtless and dismissive way.

I think in a lot of ways when someone is judging someone as a waste, it's because they are not specifically doing things or experiencing things of particular value to the speaker. Why should this be a problem? Life is full of variety, and the freedom to choose how you live your individual human life is vital to any kind of satisfaction, at least for people with Western cultural values.

Some people need to learn how to get out of their own heads once in awhile when judging other people, and realize that Not Everyone Is Like You. Sometimes I struggle with this myself and I have to repeat it inside my head as a sort of mantra, when I see or learn of someone doing something for pleasure that I could never imagine valuing myself, or that even seems bizarre or unpleasant to me. It's easy for the default assumption to be to negatively judge such things.

If what someone is doing is not harming anyone else, why do you get to judge this person as wanting? They may just get satisfaction out of different things than you do, and I don't know of any arguments for that being considered automatically Wrong.

The only thing I can see being possibly objectionable with this guy is: does he maintain his familial and societal obligations. This is not covered in the video. Is his wife (I'm assuming it's his wife) getting her needs met vis-a-vis any promises he made to her? We have no idea. And a similar thing regarding any other family he might have. You could argue friends, too, but really if his friends are unhappy with his devotion to his obsession, they could always cease being his friend, and then any obligations he has to them cease.

I feel no one is owed someone else's participation in their life, unless there are certain previously-agreed-upon obligations that the person agrees to (typically including basic familial bonds and responsibilities). If someone thinks that someone else owes them and they are not getting what they feel they are owed, they can always cut the bond.

Another idea of wasting one's life arises when someone doesn't have the sort of action or success (money, career, status, relationships, happiness) that they desire. I think most people make good faith efforts to get the things they want, and that limitations of opportunity or mental state required to succeed on these fronts don't make a person's life a waste. If someone sits around all day playing videogames and never looks for a job, they may just be stuck in a rut and need prodding to get out of it, or they may even have some mental illness going on and are just trying to get through each day with the least amount of unpleasantness they can find.

Overall I think it's the liver of the life in question who gets to decide whether it's a waste, and I think a lot of the time that's just depression and low self-esteem talking. And sometimes it motivates them to change their situation and go after things they value, which is a good thing of course and can result in them no longer feeling their life is a waste.

Anyway I think it says more about the speaker than the person described when someone accuses them of wasting their life. I think it's valid to talk about wasted opportunities, but calling someone's whole life a waste kind of comes across to me as saying they should never have been born, which is a pretty vile thing to think of someone who has done no harm to you.

And for this guy specifically: you have no idea whether he had a career, or how much it might have benefited society. Or he could have volunteered or something, you get the idea. We only get to see what he does in retirement.
posted by marble at 11:25 AM on May 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the labels were the worst thing about this video for me. It was like there was this entire beautiful, glorious system, all mathematically exact and complete, and then there was this one flaw that ruined it entirely. Even though the marbles appear to roll perfectly, I can't help but sense that the labels affect it, and trying to see if the effect was noticeable would destroy it for me.

Frankly, the lesson I learn from all of this is that I'm probably very similar to this guy except (a) I'm younger, and don't have time for this nice hobby yet, and (b) I'm a lot more obsessive-compulsive.
posted by koeselitz at 11:28 AM on May 23, 2010


Eponysterical! Unless you signed up just to make that comment?
posted by jokeefe at 11:44 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


woodblock100: It works!

Unfortunately, This works even better...

I agree we're caught in a pretty uncomfortable situation thinking about someone who is obviously enjoying and relishing an activity which for most people is incomprehensible. I think it summed it up when the interviewer asked, "Don't you ever get bored?" Because of course it has to be boring, and therefore weird that he would enjoy it.

I mean, some people might find punching the same fake monsters over and over again to be boring, but few people would look askance at someone who played video games in their free time.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:11 PM on May 23, 2010


From the video: he does this all day and he's been doing it since he was 12.
posted by pracowity at 12:55 PM on May 23, 2010


6) I'm not convinced this makes him happy. Perhaps he feels a sense of relief seeing the marbles work their way through the course but that isn't the same thing as happiness. It's like the pressure builds up inside him to watch the marbles and he has to relieve that pressure.

Wow, project much? Where the heck are you getting this?

I'm mostly struck by the contrast between his attitude (happily enjoying his hobby, without a care in his head) and hers (unhappily working at her hobby while fretting about his activities upstairs.) I'm hoping that's just an artifact of the fact that they're being filmed, and not an accurate depiction of their relationship... but even so, given the choice, I know which one of them I'd rather be.
posted by ook at 1:21 PM on May 23, 2010


He does this all day now that he's retired, I'm guessing he must have had a job and an otherwise regular life between 12 years old and now which the video conveniently doesn't address. He lives in a nice new house, it doesn't look like he's neglected everything else in his life to play with his marbles.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:37 PM on May 23, 2010


2) It seems like the labels might affect the speed of the marbles.

I thought the same thing, but when he was showing his marble showcase I figured that he put the labels on them and retired them after their laps. It's the only thing that makes sense to me. The only thing.
posted by deliquescent at 2:24 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


As someone who spent hours and hours setting up, knocking down, and picking up dominos as a kid, I appreciate this guy's devotion to his seemingly pointless hobby. Were it not for the exigencies of real life, I think I would spend much of my time happily engaged in equally pointless but immensely personally satisfying pursuits.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:24 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


His name is Eric Van Mechelen.
posted by pracowity at 2:48 PM on May 23, 2010


6) I'm not convinced this makes him happy. Perhaps he feels a sense of relief seeing the marbles work their way through the course but that isn't the same thing as happiness. It's like the pressure builds up inside him to watch the marbles and he has to relieve that pressure.

Wow, project much? Where the heck are you getting this?

Well, yes. A handful of times throughout my life I've had experiences similar to what I was suggesting. And then I've read where some people with Tourette Syndrome describe a similar situation where they feel the pressure building up inside them when they suppress their tics and when they let go it's a feeling of relief.

That said, I wanted to make clear that everything I wrote was pure speculation. I have no reason to think that all or any of it is true but if anything provides a counter to the popular sentiment that the guy is completely happy and there's nothing wrong with him.

Also, when watching the video I never felt the man was happy. I find it odd that so many other people see a happy person in the video. Oh well.
posted by bfootdav at 3:55 PM on May 23, 2010


Also, when watching the video I never felt the man was happy. I find it odd that so many other people see a happy person in the video. Oh well.

I'm sure I'm projecting here, but there's a shot of one of the man's hands while the marbles are going around the track and his fingers are twitching. I've done the same finger twitch thing my whole life when I'm excited. He may just be an old twitchy man, but to me he seemed quite excited by the marbles going around the track.
posted by cropshy at 4:05 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure it's fair or accurate to say that the dude must have any sort of syndrome, or disease, or anything. I mean, yes, it's extreme, and it's definitely obsessive. But I watched my three year old daughter roll marbles down a commercial track for two unbroken hours, with an intensity of observation and fascination that never wavered, and at the end I had to pry her away from the display with the promise of a cookie the size of her head. I think maybe there's something within the human condition that likes to watch marbles roll down things, and that this guy just happened to get a particularly large dose of it.
posted by KathrynT at 4:14 PM on May 23, 2010


I'm sure I'm projecting here, but there's a shot of one of the man's hands while the marbles are going around the track and his fingers are twitching. I've done the same finger twitch thing my whole life when I'm excited.

It's funny that you say that, when I saw that part of the video I thought it was more of an anxious twitch. Like he was thinking "who are these durn people in here filming when I've got serious business to attend to!

But I watched my three year old daughter roll marbles down a commercial track for two unbroken hours, with an intensity of observation and fascination that never wavered, and at the end I had to pry her away from the display with the promise of a cookie the size of her head

I said something similar above but speculated that where most people grow out of this phase perhaps this guy didn't which might be a problem. Maybe it's useful when you're a young child learning how the world operates but not such a good thing when a grown adult.
posted by bfootdav at 5:28 PM on May 23, 2010


I think the comments here are incredibly revealing of different cultures.
To me, this marble rolling is no different to model railway building (you know they just tear them up when they are done and start again normally, right?) or bird watching to get every critter on the list. Or jogging, or weight training, or sculpting? I suspect watching the marbles is as appealing as a lava lamp or staring at the clouds. Not something I would spend a lot of time on, but clearly pleasing to the eye.
Add in the competitive aspect of testing one against the other and I can see it is a hobby, although a bit offbeat.
What is a little odd is obsessively spending 8 hours a day. If you retire and spend 8 hours bird watching or running or whatever, you are a bit of an outlier, but this doesn't seem any less useful than Internet poker or practicing your jazz guitar, except we have been conditioned to see some uses of time as more productive than others.
posted by bystander at 6:11 PM on May 23, 2010


Pretty spheres and gravity; what's not to like!
posted by rmmcclay at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just surprised it took 22 comments to get the "losing marbles" joke. I was expecting it about 15seconds into the video and it never came. I almost cracked a rib in anticipation, not because it's funny, just because it's so obvious. Now it's gone. Ahhh.
posted by Submiqent at 12:42 AM on May 24, 2010


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