The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

These were the weapon of choice for misanthropic youths with rich fantasy lives in my junior high. They didn't actually fight with them of course -- that would have involved wonking themselves on the head repeatedly -- but they owned a pair. Or more. The reason for this, I suspect, is simply that while hardware stores don't have a "ninja sword" section, they do carry chain, dowels, and black paint. C-

Throwing Stars
These combine the mystery of ninja death-dealing with the free-wheeling fun of Frisbee, a classic chocolate-and-peanut-butter situation. ("You got Shogun on my Frisbee! You got Frisbee in my Shogun!") They also great for the movies, because they require no special effects, or skill on the part of the thespian-cum-assassin. Shot one: Ninja throws throwing stars. We hear a "Thwip thwip thunk thunk" sound. Shot two: Victim has been punctured and/or pinned to the wall by his clothes. It makes "Bewitched" look like a special-effects spectacular by comparison. A

All right, this isn't a ninja weapon. It is, rather, a breakfast cereal. But, I'm not going to be doing another cereal rating for a few weeks, and I wanted to get the word out now. This stuff is just insane. It's mind-cloudingly wonderful. It's a breakfast cereal that tastes just like Oreos! It's uncanny! You pour it in the bowl, you add milk, and boom, you're eating Oreos. It looks a little weird -- the O's are dark brown with little flecks of "Stuf," like a film negative of Apple Jacks -- but it's just indescribably fantastic. I have a history of falling in love with cereals that get pulled off the market shortly thereafter ("Smurfberry Crunch" comes to mind), so I advise you to get it while you can, stockpiling it militia-style if necessary. A+. Okay, back to the ninjas.

Long Chains With a Hook at the End
This seems a little unnecessarily complicated for ninja, the masters of the "hide, strike, fade into the night" triathlon. Change that to "hide, jump out, throw a chain so that it wraps around your opponent's legs, yank them toward you, poke them with a hook a few times, then fade into the night" and you've lost a lot of the mystique. Add to that the fact that in the movies, characters normally only get the whole chain routine so that the filmmaker can show that the character can defeat even the dreaded chain, which would be impressive except for the fact that the dreaded chain never seems to do much. D

Oh, I'm sure there are all sorts of names for all sorts of swords that your better ninja might be carrying, but they're all ninja swords, and that's what's important. Swords are the second-most-important aspect of ninja cinema, right after those little footy socks with the big toe in its own little section. You whack them with the sword, then you kick them with the footy sock; it's all part of the plan. B+

Smoke Bombs
I'm a fool. This Rating had been posted only a couple hours before a reader identified only as "Nutas McGrootas" pointed out that in the abovementioned hierarchy of ninja equipment, I had completely left out the number one most important ninja item: the smoke bomb. And goshdamnit, he's right. Even with your sword and your footy socks, you just aren't a ninja without your smoke bombs. You can't get in the ninja clubs, you don't get your 10% ninja discount at Denny's and you can't invest pre-tax income in the ninja 401(k) plan. Thanks, Nutas, for pointing out my sad oversight. A

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