Comments & Curiosities: A ninja and a cobra make the news

April 02, 2011|By Peter Buffa

All in all, not a bad week. If you're in the too-strange-to-be-fiction business, that is, which I am.

There were two stories that moved the needle on the loopy meter way to the right: the ninja warrior at Sears, and the missing cobra at the Bronx Zoo. The two aren't related, of course, but both are great examples of news in the digital age.

First, the ninja warrior at Sears.

My mornings start with an unrelenting consistency — up before 6 a.m., turn on the TV, fire up the espresso maker, check the Internet to see what blew up during the night. But the wee small hours of last Monday were different.


While I'm clicking away at my little laptop, I hear a TV reporter signing off a segment in the next room, "Andy Adler, KNBC, at South Coast Plaza, back to you."

That's weird, I thought. What would get an L.A. news crew to South Coast Plaza at 0545 hours, on a Monday morning no less? Since early morning news shows are on about a four-and-a-half-minute cycle, I didn't have to wait long to hear it again.

According to KNBC, shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, a man called 911 and said he was in the parking lot outside Sears, when he was attacked by a machete-wielding man in a ninja outfit. Needless to say, at that point, KNBC had my full attention. Don't know about you, but when I go to Sears, whatever expectations I might have, getting sideways with a machete-wielding ninja isn't one of them.

A quick spin with the remote told me the story was everywhere on the L.A. early morning news circuit. Fortunately, the man was not hurt and ninja-man didn't get far. While still on the phone with 911, the victim allegedly guided the police to his attacker as he ran first to Maggiano's Little Italy, then toward the South Coast Village Cinema across Sunflower Avenue, which is where he was arrested, just 10 minutes after the initial call was made. By midday, the item was online everywhere, but now the story was changing and the thrill was fading.

First of all, the assailant's "ninja outfit" was devolving into a black shirt, black pants and a backpack — all pretty basic stuff. The machete was definitely a machete, but the assailant never took it out of its sheath.

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