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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Operation: Triple Twelve

On “The Pop Culture Addict’s Advent Calendar”, this blogger has so far given to you...

11 trees to rock around
10 Tim Allen factoids
9 reasons to remember John Lennon
8 Claymation geese
7 EastEnders Christmases
6 holiday dreams
5 Whiz-Kid Cards
4 Elvis Christmas carols
3 Home Alone sequels
2 songs by Slade
And Olive, the Other Reindeer

So, what do I have in store for the twelfth day of the advent calendar?  Well, I decided to choose something that had a lot of reference to the number twelve because of what day it happens to be today.

Today, of course, is December 12, 2012...or, if you write it out numerically, it reads 12/12/12.  In other words, today is TRIPLE TWELVE DAY.

Because it was triple twelve day, I really wanted to do a subject that featured the number twelve.  The problem that I had today was the timing.  To me, it seemed to fall on the wrong day of the week.

Normally I have no problem writing for Wednesdays, as Wednesdays are a day in which we spotlight books and games.  Since it’s the holiday season, I predetermined that I would make the spotlight of the day based on a toy that I received as a gift for a particular Christmas. 

But when I tried to go back through all the Christmas toys I received as a kid, I came up empty.  None of them seemed to have the number 12 prominently featured in them at all.

If only 12/12/12 had fallen on a different day of the week...

If it had fallen on a Monday, I could have done a spotlight on “12 Angry Men” or “The Dirty Dozen”.  If it had fallen on a Sunday, I could have featured a band that released 12 albums, or a singer who had twelve singles that scored at #12 or higher on the charts.  And if it was a Saturday entry, I could have done a whole feature on the Ladybug Picnic sketch or the pinball machine that went to twelve.

Ah heck, let’s watch them both anyway.

I admit that I had to do a lot of thinking about this one.  How could I choose a toy that kept with the Christmas spirit, and yet still made a bit of a reference to the number twelve?

I couldn’t do Play-Doh...for one, I already did an entry on it, and for another, it only came with eight tubs.  I thought about doing a spotlight on McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, but the only thing that I could think of to write was that they ended up making me gain twelve pounds...and then some.

After hours of brainstorming (twelve hours, to be exact), I was about ready to give up.  But then I thought about the various board games that I had gotten for Christmas (I usually got at least one a year until I became a teenager), and I did a little bit of searching through search engines, hoping to find one that fit the criteria for today.

And, I happened to find one.

Ironically enough, the subject I settled on was the TWELFTH game that I looked up.  It was a board game that I ended up getting for a Christmas present in 1993, which was the year that I was TWELVE years old.  And, in the version I ended up getting, there were TWELVE different playing pieces that one had to attempt to remove from the game board.

And in this game, the game board happened to be a patient lying on a hospital bed.

Have you figured it out yet?

Yes, for the twelfth day of the advent calendar, we are going to be doing a spotlight on the board game, “Operation”, the game which turned every child who played it into Doogie Howser M.D.

(It’s kind of ironic for me to be featuring this game on Triple Twelve day.  I’ve only ever had one operation myself, and as luck would have it, it was performed on the TWELFTH of February!)

Yeah...I know...too many twelves for you to digest.  Okay, I promise you that I’ll quit...for now.

“Operation” was first seen on store shelves in the year 1965, after it was created by John Spinello.  It was originally made by Milton Bradley, but is now made by Hasbro after the latter company bought out the former.

And Operation was one of those games that could easily make you very frustrated.  I know that at certain occasions, I have wanted to take the game board and smash it against a wall or kick it down the stairs at least a dozen times!

The technology behind Operation was similar to the electrified wire loop game played in carnivals.  Take a look at the original game board for Operation (all versions prior to 2004).

See the guy lying on the bed?  The man is affectionately named “Cavity Sam”, as there are twelve openings cut into him each with a metal frame around them.  You’ll also notice that there is a bright red light bulb located where Cavity Sam’s nose is.  No, Cavity Sam does not have rosacea or got stung in the nose by a gigantic bee...but that nose is an important feature in the game.

Wherever the holes are in the game are twelve ailments that a patient can have wrong with them, and it’s your job to remove them as delicately as possible without causing the patient any discomfort.  You do this by taking the set of metal tweezers included with every game and carefully using them to extract each piece.  But you have to be very careful, because if the metal tweezers make contact with the metal sides around each opening, the red light will flash and a loud buzzing noise will accompany it, ending your shot at becoming a successful surgeon.

The game is played the same way all around the world, but the objective varies depending on region.  In the United States, a person gets cash for every piece that they remove.  The harder the piece to remove, the more money the player makes.  In the United Kingdom, however, the play money is removed, and the game is decided by the number of successful operations...the player taking out the most pieces wins the game.

And just what sorts of items do players have to remove from Cavity Sam?  Here’s the list of the twelve original pieces.

ADAM’S APPLE = an apple shaped piece located in the throat area

BROKEN HEART = a heart with a crack in the center of it on the patient’s right side

WRENCHED ANKLE = a wrench in the patient’s right ankle

BUTTERFLIES IN THE STOMACH = a butterfly in the...well...stomach

SPARE RIBS = a couple of ribs that are fused together

WATER ON THE KNEE = a bucket shaped piece in one of the patient’s knee joints

FUNNY BONE = located in one of the patient’s arms

CHARLEY HORSE = a small horse located near the patient’s hip joint

WRITER’S CRAMP = a pencil shaped piece located near the forearm

THE ANKLE BONE CONNECTED TO THE KNEE BONE = the only piece that is not made of plastic; is a rubber band that is stretched around two pegs between the patients knee and ankle

WISH BONE = located on the left side of the chest

BREAD BASKET = a piece of bread

These pieces are all in order from easiest to get out to the hardest.  Pieces like the Adam’s Apple and Wrenched Ankle are fairly simple to remove due to the easy grip and average sized openings.  But the hardest piece to get out is the Bread Basket, due to the fact that it is darn near impossible to grip, let alone getting it out of the game board!  Believe me, of all the pieces in Operation, I found the Bread Basket incredibly frustrating to get out, and it was often the one piece that was my undoing.

In 2003, there was a contest that allowed kids to vote on a thirteenth piece to be added to the twelve that already existed between three possible options – Brain Freeze, Tennis Elbow, and Growling Stomach.  The winning piece was BRAIN FREEZE, and it was included into the game design in 2004.

Operation is probably one of the most successful board games to be sold today, and as a result of its popularity, there have been several themed versions of the game made.  Over the years we have seen...




And, believe it or not, there was even a DOCTOR WHO OPERATION GAME.  Unfortunately, it seems to be only available in the United Kingdom...though with online shopping being more accessible than ever before, I’m sure you can order it if you’re a true Doctor Who fan.

It’s not hard to find a version of Operation that will tickle your funny bone...there are TWELVE different varieties of it, after all.

And that wraps up Day #12 of the Advent Calendar.

But do join us for Day #13.  It’s a diary entry...and this time, I talk about respect for others during the holidays...regardless of what you celebrate.

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