ANIMALS = MACHINES (birds are planes)

You know what’s crazy? Birds can fly. Think of any time you ask another human this question, If you could have one superpower what would it be? Most people say the ability to fly. Creepy people say invisibility so they can be peeping toms and get away with it.

Birds have that ability (Not the peeping tom one). Birds can fly. Birds are basically living, breathing planes. The whole idea for planes was definitely stolen from birds.

The Wright Bros Conversation

(A super long time ago)

Joe Wright: Yo bro, how can we get to North Carolina, but like real fast.

Greg Wright: I don’t know Joe.

(GREG looks up to the sky. Sees birds flying.)

Greg Wright: What if… Naw, never mind. That’s stupid.

Joe Wright: The only stupid thing you can do is not tell me what you just thought, bro.

Greg Wright: Well, what if we could do… that?

(GREG points to the birds)

Joe Wright: Oh my god! What???

Greg Wright: I know I told you it’s stupid.

Joe Wright: Stupid? Greg, you’re a genius.

*And that’s kind of how we got planes. Because of the Wright Brothers and birds and one day thinking about transportation while in an open field.

**No research was done to make sure this is how the Wright Brothers history went down. This is just a hypothesis.

This got me thinking, can humans do anything cool like that? Birds can transform into planes (even though birds came first). 

I guess humans can run, but that’s just like walking — but a little faster. Birds can do both of those things, and FLY!

What we can do is turn into boats, or submarines. Humans can swim. And swimming is pretty cool, because it’s not just moving through the water like walking or running under water. You have to become sort of a machine. You have to propel yourself through the water, using one of a few different techniques.

There’s also many different ways to swim and that’s very groovy too. We have the freestyle, the breaststroke, the backstroke, the froggy one (like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible). 

Birds only really have one, well, maybe two ways of flying — flappy wings or gliding.

How do you think swimming was invented? Who was the first human to swim? Was some human stuck in the middle of open water with nowhere to go and just started trying some different techniques out? Did someone fall in a pool and swim to the edge, and then everyone was like, “Yo, what was that? Are you a machine?”

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I guess I was just trying to say that “Swimming is Cool!”

Disney Snacks • Magic Kingdom: The Search for my Mickey Cake Pop

A few years ago, while visiting Walt Disney World with my buddy (who lived in Orlando at the time), I learned about my favorite Disney treat — the Mickey Cake Pop. We were visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios and there was a small bakery (or confectionery) inside one of the Sunset Boulevard shops (near Tower of Terror). That was the place to get cake pops and other sweet treats inside of Hollywood Studios — once upon a time.

From that day forward, any time I would visit a Disney Park with my buddy we always picked up some Mickey Cake Pops, except in Epcot. There is no confectionery in Epcot, but that’s fine with me. Epcot has tons of great snacks and treats to eat, and Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie (the French bakery).

Side Quest:
Today, that Sunset Boulevard Bakery no longer exists.
In fact, there is no confectionery inside of Hollywood Studios.
It’s very sad that I can no longer pick up a Mickey Cake Pop
inside of Hollywood Studios*
(*my most visited Disney Park in recent years).

Since the loss of the Sunset Boulevard Bakery, Mickey Cake Pops are now only available in 50% of Walt Disney World Parks — the two Kingdoms, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. You can also probably find them somewhere in Disney Springs.

During my return to Magic Kingdom last month I had a small scare. I planned on eating some good treats, including something I’ve never had before. However, I also planned on finally having another Mickey Cake Pop — which I hadn’t enjoyed in over a year.

I’ve compiled this short journal of my meals during my last visit to Magic Kingdom in April.
I only ate three things, and they all happened to be sweet treats or desserts.

Treat #1 • Dole Whip Swirl

This first treat had been planned out since the moment I booked my Magic Kingdom reservation. I have always heard great things about the Dole Whip, I just thought it wasn’t really for me, since I love chocolate over fruity sweets. My original idea of this snack was more complicated than it actually is. In my mind it was some sort of pineapple drink float with soft serve on top.

The Dole Whip is basically soft serve ice cream and you get to choose whether you want Vanilla, Pineapple, or the swirl. For my first ever Dole Whip I went with the swirl, and that was the right choice. I think the mix of Pineapple and Vanilla is the perfect combination. The tartness of the Pineapple is toned down by the Vanilla flavor.

I ate this around noon for my breakfast, and it was a great breakfast. The soft serve is not too heavy of a snack. The weather was also perfect for a cool treat like this. The whole day was cool (in the 60s), so I wore my sweater, but the sun was shining so it was a little warm too.

I ate my Dole Whip and proceeded to visit one of my favorite shows in Walt Disney World, the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Treat #2 • Marshmallow Pop

After moving from land to land, I arrived in Fantasyland to visit Big Top Souvenirs, which also houses some baked goods. I came in searching for my favorite treat, but this is where I received some disappointing news.

When I asked for a Mickey Cake Pop, the cast member behind the counter notified me that they no longer existed. I saw a snack that sort of looked like a Mickey Cake Pop, so I asked for one. She told me it was like a rice krispie treat version of the Mickey Cake Pop, so I said, “Sure, why not.”

There was actually zero rice krispie inside of this new pop. Instead it was filled with pure Marshmallow fluff, which was better for me since a Mickey Cake Pop has Marshmallow fluff for the ears. Although it wasn’t the Cake Pop I had wanted, it was still pretty close in shape and satisfied part of my cake pop needs with marshmallow fluff.

Even though the Mickey Marshmallow Pop was not exactly what I came looking for, I would definitely get one again. This was a really tasty snack. I also know they have different shapes and versions of these that I will most likely try out in the future. Some may even feature different flavors.

Treat #3 • Mickey Cake Pop!

At this point I was on my way out of the park. I stopped at a few shops on Mainstreet USA to pick up some goodies on the way out (I have to use my Passholder discount whenever I visit Disney Parks, usually to get a new mug).

I also decided to stop at the Mainstreet Bakery to pick up some Goofy gummies. These are another favorite, but more of a take-home treat. I also got some Disney gummies for my nephews.

When I got to the cash register to pay for these treats, I also decided to take home a giant Mickey cookie since I was feeling a bit defeated about the missing out on my Mickey Cake Pop. At this moment I saw the cake pops, I asked the cashier, “Are those cake pops, or more marshmallow fluffs?” and he assured me that they were the cake pops I was looking for.

I had found them on my way out. I was so excited that I asked for one and I still took that giant cookie home, for all of my troubles. If you’ve ever had a cake pop at Starbucks, it’s sort of like that but there’s way more cake pop to it. Also, there’s the added Marshmallows for ears.
__

Since I hadn’t visited Magic Kingdom for over a year I just wanted to eat some sweet treats. I do plan on doing more food related posts in the future, and definitely some Epcot Food Festival posts as well. So, be on the lookout for those.

Stay tuned for more learnings, and hopefully I’ll be back at Walt Disney World soon to write about more Disney stuff. I still have one or two more posts to go from my April trip.

What are your favorite Magic Kingdom (or Disney) treats? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, telepathically, or any other way you’d like to reach out and tell me about it.

I Beat Amazon!

For the past several years, anytime someone has asked a friend, “Hey where can I buy one of those?” The answer has been, “I don’t know man, check Amazon.” Everything is cheaper on Amazon, you get FREE super fast shipping (especially since we are all Prime members now), and you don’t have to bother any live humans — you just click a few buttons and your stuff will arrive either later today, tomorrow or the day after (anything longer than that is not worth your time).

The other great thing about Amazon is if you don’t like something you ordered you can easily send it back. And, if they try to make you pay for the return shipping, you can just change your answer to, “it’s your fault, not mine, Amazon!” and now your return shipping is FREE.

Beating Amazon

So, how did I beat Amazon? Well, I have beaten them before in a different way, and I have shared that story, but here’s a quick refresher. I had ordered a Nintendo Wii U (on Cyber Monday), but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it or not. Next, I received a “lost in transit” message about that order, but it still somehow showed up to my door. So, I canceled my order and got to keep the Wii U for FREE. This is a totally different way of beating Amazon, and I’ve beaten them with “lost in transit” items a couple of times before. That just happened to be the biggest one.

This time I beat them on pricing. I was searching for a Kayak Captain’s hat (or straw hat). My sister has one that she always wear by Avid, so I first looked at those. When I asked her about her hat she told me that it had a tear and she had ordered a new one from a different brand, Hemlock Hat Co.

I was curious, so I checked out both Amazon and each hat makers site (Avid and Hemlock). Amazon has a terrible user interface (UI) when it comes to switching between versions of the same item — It opens a new page for each style/color, instead of simply changing the image. Because of this I stuck with online shopping on the Hemlock site, just to find the right model.

I found one I really liked and it was on sale. That’s when I stuck it in my cart. I went back to Amazon to check the price and the same style was almost fifteen freakin’ dollars more expensive. I thought that the difference may be added in shipping costs. Luckily, shipping was less than fifteen dollars ($9.00). In the end I purchased my hat from Hemlock’s website, and it came in a nice box with lots of cushion.

Some Cool Captain Kayak Photos

What We Learned

Not only did I beat Amazon’s price, or better yet Hemlock did, but I was happy to support the actual store and not give Amazon more money (we all give them enough money). Amazon is great for the consumer, but I don’t think it’s so great for the seller all the time. Sure, it gets their product out all over the world, but I’m pretty sure they take a big cut of sales. Plus, Amazon is always changing prices on everything and I’m sure when the prices go down it’s not great for the seller. 

Either way, whether you’re supporting Amazon or someone else, the world is full of a bunch of evil faceless corporations. So, does it really matter who you support? I guess when you can it feels better to support the smaller faceless business.

Using Disney Genie+

In the beginning of April, I visited Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for the first time in over two years. This also happened to be my first time in the Magic Kingdom Post-FastPass, during the Pandemic and all by myself. It was sort of a “business trip” to gather some content for upcoming posts here on Ferdi’s Learnings — starting with this one.

I decided to pay the extra $15 to see what Disney Genie+ was all about.
Here’s what I learned:

Fast Pass vs Genie+ | Ride the Lightning

When I first heard of Disney Genie and Genie+ taking over for FastPass it just sounded like WDW was attempting to monetize their FastPasses.

For so many years FastPasses have been free, plus they were a way for Disney employees to make disgruntled guests happy:

Sorry, your Disney Hotel room isn’t ready? Congratulations! You just scored some extra FastPasses for your day at the park tomorrow.

The quality of your meal didn’t meet your expectations? Have a FastPass on us.

It was basically a way for Disney employees to fix any problem without losing any money.

There are two parts to the new Disney Genie service. The first (and FREE) part is more of a personal park concierge that plans out your day at the park, according to traffic and other changing factors.

The second part, Disney Genie+, is the paid version that gives you access to the new FastPass — now known as the Lightning Lane. Genie+ means shorter lines for Lightning Lane guests, but longer Standby lines for everyone else. I walked right onto my three Lightning Lane rides — Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and Buzz Lightyear. I also noticed that many of the Standby lines (for popular rides) had long waits all day long.

Since I was only in the park for about half a day, 9:00 am to about 4:30 pm, I was only able to book two Lightning Lane reservations for myself — Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear. My third reservation was a gift — from a Magic Kingdom cast member.

SideQuest:
After talking to a Disney Guest Relations representative about renewing my Annual Pass and the Disney Genie+ service I now had a better understanding of the service. His advice was,
“If you want to do the most in one day at a Disney park, it’s best to pay for the Genie+ service and mix it up with waiting in standby lines while also using the lightning lane. It’s all about finding that perfect balance.”

My day was not spent finding that perfect balance. Instead I made my way from Land to Land, visiting some of them multiple times. I knew exactly what I was looking for, I just didn’t plan out my strategy beforehand. I found myself in Tomorrowland at least three separate times that day.

While Lightning Lane reservations only grant you an hour window to get to the attraction, a cast member gift pass lasts all day (single use) — from park open to close. That means I could have jumped onto the Jungle Cruise at any point in my day. I ended up going straight there since it happened to be right by where I had talked to that cast member.

I wouldn’t be surprised if WDW is encouraging cast members to give out these all-day (single use) Lightning Lane gift passes to guests trying out the Genie+ service for the first time. This will encourage us to pay for it over and over again.

How does Genie+ Work?

Back in the day, you were able to book up to three FastPasses per day, up to one month (maybe a little more) in advance. Once completing your three FastPasses, you were eligible to pick up some extra ones, if any were available.

With Genie+, guests are able to book one Lightning Lane pass every two hours. That means if you get into the park at opening (9am), you can pick your first pass and by 11AM you’ll be able to pick the next one. If you claim your first pass before the two hour mark, you may be able to pick your next one a little earlier. This gives the possibility of more opportunities for Lightning Lane as long as you start early and stay on top of it.

From what I saw, I believe that only one member of a party needs to purchase the Genie+ service. So, if I pay for Genie+, I could take a friend with me on my Lightning Lane rides. What I’m not sure of is, “What if two friends purchase Genie+? Can they end up picking up maybe 6-10 separate Lightning Lane rides and sharing them?”

My Genie+ Theory

Here’s how I believe this whole Genie thing got started. Let’s go back to before March 2020. Disney Parks had giant crowds almost every day of the year, up until parks, sports and everything had to shut down (for the first time in forever), right after Tom Hanks got COVID. Once Disney opened back up, they started off with a park reservation system to control crowds and cap the maximum number of park guests (in an attempt to not spread more COVID).

SideQuest 2:
I didn’t visit Disney Parks in the height of the pandemic, but even when I went in February of this year (2022), they were still doing a good job of enforcing the indoor mask mandate. Although when I went this time they were only enforcing mask wearing on the monorail and certain areas, but now that’s over. It’s back to the wild wild west like the rest of Florida.
(Thanks for being a big dumb COVID denier, Gov. Ronald Dion Desantis!)

Back to the reopening. The park reservation system was doing great, not only were they able to control crowds, they also had an idea of how busy or empty each park would on any given day. With all of this new data and info, (in this age of collecting data and info), WDW created this new digital concierge system “Disney Genie,” which could now give park guests recommendations for their big day at a Disney Park.

This also opened up the new possibility of changing up the “FastPass” system and making it a faster, paid system — The Lightning Lane!

Is Genie+ Worth it?

This all depends on your goals. How often do you visit Disney Parks? If you’re trying to do as many rides as you can (especially the most wanted ones), then you should probably pay the extra money for Genie+. You also need to be diligent and stay on top of it. Make sure your phone is charged and bring yourself an extra phone chargy bank.

Where it gets complicated is the “surge” pricing. For a Lightning Lane pass to ride the extremely popular rides, you may have to pay a premium of an extra $5-15 dollars (maybe more than that). The surge pricing is only for a handful of rides (brand new and very popular rides). Most rides are included within the original $15 upgrade.

As an Annual Passholder I don’t think I will purchase the Genie+ service for every visit to Disney Parks. For now, I may just save it for my next visit to Epcot, just so I can ride Remy’s Ratatouille Ride. Maybe I’ll purchase the pass for Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios.

Overall, I think it’s a good service and I’m sure it will continue to evolve. Of course I did enjoy my “FREE” FastPasses from the before times. However, I do think they added some extra value with the concierge system, I just wish it was still FREE, or you could at least pick up a few FastPasses/Lightning Lane rides for FREE.

Now that I’ve renewed my Annual Pass I have to go back as many times as possible this year.

Ferdi’s Learnings 3.0

Back in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, I launched Ferdi’s Learnings 2.0. I changed up the style and look of the site. I got back into posting a couple of times a month (sure, I planned on one or more posts a week, but things happen). I worked on my photo editing skills.

It is now 2022, and time for something new…

Ferdi’s Learnings 3.0 

What does that mean exactly? This year, I’m going to try all kinds of new stuff. This time it’s not about changing the look and feel, but instead it’s about adding more content.

A couple of weeks ago I added the “Events & Entertainment” category to the site, when I wrote about attending my first Live WWE event in over 20 years. And I will continue to add new “Events & Entertainment” posts (not just wrestling). In fact, I will be working on some later this week.

I plan to post more food stuff this year. Last year, I started my “Apples in Review” posts, where I was going to review every flavor of apple I could find. I did eat a bunch of apples last year, and have many photos of me eating apples now. I just quickly abandoned posting about apples. Yes, there are many different types of apples, but I learned that they mostly taste the same — or my apple palate isn’t very advanced.

Don’t worry, I will do something with those apple photos. Here are some pictures of me taking a bite out of some juicy apples…

I do however have a great love for “Sweets & Treats.” Hey! I think I just discovered another new category.

In the coming weeks I plan to start adding a few more, so stay tuned. For now, you can enjoy this post that talks about what I plan to do in the future. (This is what is called a filler post).

I will continue to write my regular learnings about dumb stuff I learn some weeks, but I’m also trying to grow. Aren’t we all? It’s important to continue to evolve. I’m not the same person I was seven or ten years ago when FerdingsLearnings began as a one off weekly post on a blog featuring a few of my Miami Ad School classmates.

Special shoutout to Wallace Cruz for creating this site as SCnA (Super Cool n’ Awesome people). And, for later handing it over to me for Ferdi’s Learnings when everyone else got too busy with their real work.

I will continue to write and post and explore and more just to make Wally proud!

Thanks, and see you real soon with some new stuff!

I Got the COVID

A few weeks ago, I posted about attending WWE Smackdown. The week after attending Smackdown, I tested positive for COVID-19. After not getting the official disease of the 2020 Pandemic ever before, I finally got it on the two year anniversary of the shutdown.

Let me start off by saying “Thank the gods for vaccines.” I didn’t feel great for those first couple of days (fever, chills, body aches, headache, cough…), but I might have felt much worse if it weren’t for my Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Booster shot.

*Side Quest: If you haven’t got your vaccine or booster shot, maybe it’s time to make a change? This thing isn’t going away anytime soon.

Remember a time where we used to share air with strangers. We would sit in waiting rooms or on airplanes for hours at a time and just breathe the same air as people we didn’t know. Then COVID hit, and everything got weird. We don’t even want to share the same air with certain people we do know. Now we watch old movies and shows and think, Why isn’t anyone wearing a mask?

A valuable lesson I learned from having COVID is that you can have strangers do tasks for you, and not only will they gladly perform the task, they will also say,
“Thank you.”

I was told (by a doctor) to quarantine for 5-7 days from when I first became ill. I quarantined for 10+ days. I stayed out of stores, and places where the people were. When I had to ride in an elevator, I made sure it was empty.

More than once, I needed to pick up some drugs from the local pharmacy. Before driving over I called to let them know that I had tested positive for COVID. I asked if they could bring my medicine outside, so I wouldn’t have to go in the store and infect everyone — there’s no drive thru at this local pharmacy.

What caught me off guard was when the pharmacist paused after I had made my request and said, “Sure, and THANK YOU for that.” That moment was the closest I will ever come to knowing what it feels like for a veteran when someone says, “Thank you for your service.” That moment and when I finally picked up the medicine and the other pharmacist also thanked me for my service.

Not only was I doing the “right thing,” but I was being recognized for it. It was a nice feeling that I don’t get to experience very often. My next thought was should I start ordering food to pick up on the sidewalk just to be thanked again? I didn’t do it.


Me giving Roman Reigns (aka the Tribal Chief) the thumbs down, while he’s smiling because his dirty dum dum fans are giving me the COVID. Also, my buddy Shaun next to me, not getting COVID.

I’m now COVID free and ready to do stuff again, with my mask on of course. I did wear my mask to WWE Smackdown, but I also had one beer. And I’m sure that pulling my mask on and off at the beginning to enjoy that beer was how the COVID got in me. Also, being around a bunch of maskless dum dum Roman Reigns fans didn’t help.

*There’s no scientific proof that I picked up COVID at WWE Smackdown, and I would still go to Smackdown (and RAW) in the future. It just happened to be the most crowded place I visited that week.

Back at WWE Smackdown

Last week, (March 4th) after a 20+ year absence, I finally made my return to Professional Wrestling, as a fan (with my buddy, Shaun). Friday Night Smackdown! The last time I went to a Smackdown it was still on Thursday nights, and it was still called WWF Smackdown.

In preparation for attending my first Smackdown in over 20 years, I went back to October or November of 2021 and started watching every Raw, Smackdown and WWE Premium Event to prepare. By the time we went to Smackdown I was fully caught up on the past few months of WWE wrestling, and now I’m back to being a wrestling fan.

A lot has changed in 20 years…

Back when I started watching the WWF they had Monday Night Raw or Raw is War each week. It wasn’t until later on that Smackdown became a thing, on Thursday nights. The top Superstars were The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Mankind, The Undertaker and Kane. We had groups like DX, The Brood, The Rock and Sock Connection, T&A and the Acolytes.

I remember my first time at Monday Night Raw, when I realized that these shows were pre-taped. All of the wrestlers were talking as if it were Monday, even though the show was being recorded on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I knew that wrestling wasn’t “real combat” but for some reason this sort of took me out of it even more. I thought I was being lied to. It didn’t stop me from watching though.

Today, Smackdown is recorded Live for television on Fridays. The show started at 8 PM (after a pre-show match), and ended at 10 PM (with an after-show match). I’m pretty sure Monday Night Raw is also recorded live today.

Seat Fillers & Live Taping

We arrived at our seats a few minutes into the first match, and since our seats were directly across from the cameras filming the action we had seat fillers holding our spot (making the crowd look full). Two of the seat fillers kindly scattered off to find another empty seat to fill.

It’s fun to get to see how the whole show is made behind the scenes. We also got to see what happens during commercial breaks. Shows will cut to commercial mid-match, usually when someone is down. The match doesn’t stop though, it keeps on going.

There are also many times where the first Superstar is introduced for a match, but they cut to commercial before their opponent comes out. It’s funny to see them come out and do their thing, then the music and lights sort of go out and the Superstar chills in the ring for a bit, until the music starts back up again and we return from the commercial break to introduce their opponent.

We also got to see some commercial break crowd games. Games like “Best sign,” “Best People’s Eyebrow” and “Best DX Suck it!” Too bad they didn’t have one for best homemade shirt, or I would have won.

My homemade King Woods shirt (made with Cricut)

There are also many pre-recorded promos. You can tell when you’re there which Superstars aren’t really in the building. Those who are in promos, but never come out to the ring. There was a whole Poker bit with Happy Corbin and MadCap Moss backstage messing with Drew McIntyre, but since Happy and MadCap never made it out, it was most likely pre-recorded. Maybe even in another arena.

I also noticed that the Superstar intros are jazzed up a bit for television. Everyone knows that Xia Li’s electricity on television is CG, but I think there is even more being added into the background.

When Drew McIntyre came out we got to see some fire and explosions. It just felt like there was more thunder than lightning. Meaning I heard more than I saw, so they most likely just add some extra sparks and explosions on the TV.

Overall, being at a WWE event live was an awesome time. The one problem was that FTX Arena didn’t allow me to bring in my DSLR camera, so you’ll have to check out pictures from my iPhone. Now, let’s go over some of the matches and Superstars we got to see here in Miami.

Matches & Superstars

INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Sami Zayn (Champion) vs Ricochet

The night began with an Intercontinental Title Match. Sami Zayn who snaked his way into being the Intercontinental Champion lost to Ricochet. There was some outside interference by Jackass’s Johnny Knoxville.

Zayn vs Ricochet Highlights


AUSTIN THEORY CHALLENGES PAT MCAFEE TO WRESTLEMANIA MATCH

Next Austin Theory came out, which was strange since he’s a Raw Superstar. Now that Smackdown and Raw are split with their own unique rosters. Theory came out to challenge Smackdown commentator, Pat McAfee, to a match at Wrestlemania after Vince McMahon had been on Pat’s podcast earlier in the week. He also slapped Pat in the face.

Austin Theory Slaps Pat


NAOMI VS CARMELLA

The second match of the evening was Naomi vs Carmella, to prepare us for the Women’s Tag Team Championship match at Wrestlemania: Naomi & Sasha Banks vs Carmella & Queen Zelina. Now that Naomi isn’t worried about being harassed by Sonya Deville, she can get some good matches in.

Both Superstars had their tag team partners at their side. Sasha was able to stop Queen Zelina from interring by smashing her face into the steps. This helped Naomi secure the win with a moonsault on Carmella. Tonight, we’ll see Sasha face Queen Zelina, one on one.

Naomi vs Carmella Highlights

*I guess I only got a few pictures of Naomi’s “Feel the Glow” entrance, because I don’t really care for Carmella.


DREW MCINTYRE VS JINDER MAHAL

Before Drew’s match, we saw that whole Happy and MadCap pre-recorded promo I had talked about. That was to set up Drew vs Happy at Wrestlemania, a match I’ve been waiting to see.

After the promo, we took a bathroom break and missed this whole match, and Drew McIntyre’s perfectly-timed “Claymore.” We almost had another chance to see a Claymore in the bonus match, but it got reversed.

Drew McIntyre vs Jinder Mahal

*I also only caught a few pics of Drew McIntyre’s Intro with Angela (his giant sword).


RICK BOOGS & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (ATTACKED BY THE USOS)

I didn’t think Rick Boogs (MY NEW FAVORITE SUPERSTAR) would be here for SMACKDOWN with Shinsuke Nakamura. Last I heard, they were both injured. So, this was a sweet surprise to get to see my favorite intro live, even if it was cut short by the Usos.

I recorded the intro myself on my iPhone, but the video I found online is way better. Plus, you’ll get to see me in the background as Roman Reigns calls out Brock Lesnar, giving him the thumbs down. I’m also hoping this assault on Boogs and Nakamura will lead to a Tag Team Title Match for them vs the Usos.

Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura + Me harassing Roman Reigns


TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: THE USOS VS THE VIKING RAIDERS

When I first saw the Viking Raiders I thought they seemed sort of silly, but after seeing them in action, I’m all about the Raiders. Ivar is a 300 lb high flyer, and I love when him and Erik team up and throw each other at their opponents.

The Usos are just Roman Reigns baby heel cousins. Their his little goons, but for some reason so many people in Miami love the Usos and Roman. I will admit they are fun to watch, but I’m always rooting for them to lose.

The Usos won this match to retain their title with some slight cheating. Of course, they had the Viking Raiders fly out to Saudi Arabia just to ambush them before their match and have it postponed until SMACKDOWN a few weeks later.

The Usos vs Viking Raiders Highlights


BIG E VS SHAEMUS

Even though I wasn’t able to see King Woods (aka Xavier Woods aka Austin Creed), I was happy to see both of his New Day compatriots, Kofi Kingston and Big E! They rode out on Big E’s fresh new ATV.

There was no match between Big E and Shaemus though. There was only about a minute of actual match time before Rich and Shaemus went dirty and stole Big E’s birthday present, the ATV, to take it outside and smash it with sledgehammers.

This rivalry is definitely not over, I’m sure we’ll see more of Big E vs Shaemus, and even The New Day vs Shaemus and Rich Holland. Bring back King Woods and have him take on Shaemus or Rich.

Big E vs Shaemus: The Ambush


TWO CHALLENGES

Next we got to see Johnny Knoxville challenge Sami Zayn to a Wrestlemania match from backstage. After that we saw more of Happy Corbin and MadCap’s silly antics, before Drew McIntyre showed up and ruined their fun. Perhaps they were in the building?

This was all to get us ready for the main event of the night.


RONDA ROUSEY VS SONYA DEVILLE

It was very cool to see Rowdy Ronda Rousey in her first ever SMACKDOWN match, especially to see her fight Sonya Deville. When Charlotte Flair came out to watch the match from ringside, I thought she would try to do something to help Sonya win. She didn’t.

It was after the match that Ronda invited Charlotte into the ring. Charlotte went after her, but Ronda quickly put her into an ankle lock.

Ronda vs Sonya (vs Charlotte?)


BONUS: 6-MAN TAG TEAM: USOS & ROMAN REIGNS VS VIKINGS & DREW MCINTYRE

This was the best match of the night. Once the show is officially over, the crowd gets a goofy, over the top match to enjoy. It’s the end of the night and many of these Superstars have participated in a match by now, so the wrestling is a bit more sloppy. The character work is way over the top though.

The match began with one of the Usos vs one of the Vikings. The crowd kept cheering for Roman to fight, since we hadn’t seen him fight earlier in the night, and he’s the self-proclaimed “Head of the Table” and our “Tribal Chief.”

Roman and the Usos messing with the crowd in Miami

Roman kept egging us on to chant and roar, and when he finally was tagged in he would tag one of the Usos back in. It was silly, but fun. It even made me like him a little more. We also got to see Paul Heyman go after some guy in the crowd. Well, he tried to, but the Usos were holding him back.

Roman ended up taking part in the match and spearing a viking for the win. Seeing wrestling live is great, but this end of the night match made me think of our Wednesday night rehearsals at the improv theater. Doing shows for live audiences is great, but on Wednesday it was just the cast, trying stuff out for each other. That’s when we were our silliest.

If you ever find yourself at a live taping of Raw or Smackdown or anything else in the WWE Universe, make sure to stay for the extra match. Also, get there early so you don’t miss the opening “pre-taping” match.

Top Ten Moments from Smackdown Miami 3/4/2022

Overall this was an amazing night. I would attend WWE live shows each and every week if I could. Instead, I will continue to watch them on TV until they come back to Miami some time later this year or next year.


Ferdi’s Learnings E&E (Events & Entertainment) is something new I’m trying out this year. This is the first of hopefully many more to come this year. It’s just my way of including more of the stuff I love on this site.

*Side note: My goal for this post was to also post my WWE 2K22 (the Video Game) review/thoughts at the same time on my other site (myVGBC.com) as a Crossover post. I’m still working on that one, but it will be up later today or over the weekend.

Bananas • The Perfect Food

I recently came to the conclusion that bananas are THE MOST PERFECT FOOD.

Think about it. A banana comes ready to eat. All you have to do is peel it and eat it.
Let’s briefly go over some of the reasons why bananas are THE MOST PERFECT FOOD:

#1 GREAT AS IS

There’s no need to mess with the banana, but you can if you want to. You may also eat a banana just as it is and that’s fine.

You can use bananas as an ingredient to enhance many meals and snacks. You can make a StrawNana smoothie. Make an extra sweet treat, like a frozen Nutella-Banana, Banana’s Foster or Banana Split. I even once grilled bananas wrapped in bacon. I’ve had bananas on pizza!

Side Plug: I also make delicious Ferdi’s Nana Puddin’ which you can order anytime by messaging me via text message, email, or social apps.

#2 CONVENIENTLY PACKAGED

There’s no need to wash your banana. Plus, you can easily peel it, with your fingers. Oranges feature an outer layer that you don’t eat either, but you need some sort of tool (or knife) to get to the inside — unless your some kind of barbarian. Other fruits hit the floor and need to be cleaned before you put them in your mouth.

#3 NO WASTE

Although the banana does come in it’s natural “package” (aka banana peel), there’s no need to worry about pollution. The banana packaging (aka banana peel) is 100% biodegradable.

Side PSA: Let’s just keep banana peels off the streets and walkways. You never know what’s going to happen when someone drives, bikes or steps on a banana peel based on what we’ve seen in movies, cartoons and Mario Kart.

#4 NUTRITIOUS

Bananas are a healthy source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients. You can learn more about the banana’s health benefits right here.

#5 DELICIOUS

Also, Bananas aren’t just a convenient snack, they’re also a delicious one. But this leads us back to reason #1. Like I said earlier, bananas are great as is but may also enhance many meals.

Are bananas my favorite food? No, of course not. There are a million better foods out there. But they are a great choice and the most perfectly made food by Earth (or God, or whoever you believe is in control of everything). I’m just trying to say they are the most perfectly designed food for instant consumption.

My New Favorite Superstar

BACK IN THE DAY

Back in the late 1900s and early 2000s, I was a big WWF fan (now known as WWE). I watched Monday Night Raw every week, and I even remember Smackdown coming on TV at some point during my fandom. I would record episodes on my VHS tape if I had to miss them, so I could watch them later (no streaming, TIVO or replays back then).

The Rock was, is and forever shall be my number one favorite Superstar. In fact, here’s a cool story. I’ve never met The Rock, but I do have his autograph (pictured below).

SIDE QUEST

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Autograph

Side Quest
When I was in the 7th or 8th grade there was a WWF event happening in Miami, FL and The Rock was going to be at Bayside (back when it wasn’t super gross) signing autographs. The day it was all going down I happened to be in the middle of Midterms or Finals at school, so I couldn’t skip school for that 

Side Side Quest
Also, my mom worked at my school so it was kind of impossible for me to skip without her knowing. I once stayed up so late on a school night that my alarm clock (yes, not my cell phone, but a clock that was created to tell you the time and wake you up), didn’t wake me up. At around noon, my teacher had asked my mom if I was sick or something, and she said no. She came home and found me asleep and took me to school.

Side Quest cont.
Because I couldn’t go to Bayside, my coach (Tony) went to Bayside to meet The Rock and get his autograph for me. I will never forget that. (I also have a basketball signed by Bill Cosby because of Tony, which is another story for another day).


BACK IN THE DAY cont.

In middle school, I attended three or more Live WWF events (Raw, Smackdown and one of those late night ones no one watches like WWF Livewire). Since we were just kids at the time, my dad had to take me and two of my stupid friends. My dad was not a fan of wrestling, but he did it because he loves me.

Wrestling was a big part of our lives. We would all give each other DDTs and Stone Cold Stunners. We’d Rock Bottom each other into the pool. We’d shotgun soda cans like we were Stone Cold Steve Austin. We played WCW and WWF video games from the N64 on.

But then something happened. Sometime in High School, I just sort of dropped off of the WWF train. It was like the whole Santa Claus thing (which I believed in for way too long). Sure, I knew wrestling wasn’t real, but at some point it wasn’t cool to like it anymore. I moved on to other “cooler” stuff.

CUT TO A FEW WEEKS AGO…

My parents really wanted to watch the show Yellowstone, because all of their friends were talking about it. I did the research and found out it was streaming on Peacock, so I signed up for a  FREE one month subscription to Peacock just so they could watch three seasons of Yellowstone in about ten days.

One of those days I was at home working, and I checked Peacock just to see what was on there. I found some good stuff, The Office, Parks and Recreation, the new MacGruber show, a bunch of movies and sports stuff.

Then I noticed something. Off to the side on the menu bar I saw it — one tab that read “WWE.” When I went over to it, I unlocked a never-ending world of WWE (WCW, WWF and more). I could go back in time and watch any match from the beginning all the way up until today.

So, I started with what I knew. I went back to about a couple of years after I had stopped watching. I saw some of my most memorable Superstars. Some I remembered, some I had forgotten and others that seeing them instantly triggered so many great memories. 

I watched some Royal Rumbles, which are the most exciting matches in my opinion. You get to see thirty wrestlers enter the ring one at a time for a giant match. The only way to get eliminated is to be thrown over the top rope and have both feet touch the ground — something Kofi Kingston has gotten very good at avoiding (click on his name to see the highlights). It’s also a good time to see which Superstars, Hall of Famers and even celebrities join the Rumble.

NEW OBSESSION

This past weekend I saw online that the Royal Rumble was happening. Also, I learned that I would be able to watch live on Peacock (no more fifty or sixty dollar PPV events). That’s amazing! I ended up watching the latest Royal Rumble on Monday, both womens and mens. 

I also watched most of the other matches from that night, and of course, with every big match there’s a story of what led up to that match. This is where my WWE wrestling rabbit hole began. After the Royal Rumble traveled back a couple of weeks to see where some of this beef had developed.

I went back to a few Smackdowns from last month and last year. Next, to SummerSlam to see where the Edge vs Seth Rollins story had started. I continued to go back and forth to learn who these new superstars are. I watched some Xavier Woods aka Austin Creed matches (since I know of him from his Video Game podcast, Up Up Down Down). 

And then it happened. I found my new favorite (second favorite, because The Rock will always be number one in my heart) wrestler, Rick Boogs! (you need to click on his name to see why he’s the greatest).

Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Rick Boogs

It’s Rick Boogs y’all! 

I first saw Rick Boogs in the Royal Rumble in his wrestling singlet. I just thought he was some nerdy wrestler dude. It wasn’t until later on that I saw him introduce the King, Shinsuke Nakamura with his electric guitar that I thought, This is the best dude ever! King Nakamura also brings a lot of thunder to the entrance the way the music travels through his body.

I forgot how fun wrestling is to watch. The matches are exciting and crazy. The stories are stupid and fun. And the entrances are electrifying.

I mostly just wanted to share Rick Boogs with the rest of the world, and now I have done that. So, goodnight!

Ok here’s one more for you. RICK BOOGS!

Obsessed with Coconuts

There’s something really weird going on in South Florida. Maybe it’s been going on for a long time and I’ve never noticed until recently. For my entire life I’ve lived on a small island connected to Miami — Key Biscayne (aka Island Paradise). You may have heard of it in the original Bad Boys movie, where they are told to go to Key Biscayne, but don’t actually go there.

Bad Boys (1995) • Not the exact scene where they mention Key Biscayne, but I had to include something.

Key Biscayne has also been featured in Christian Finnegan’s stand up comedy about Florida and Albert Einstein.

“If Albert Einstein Was From Florida” • Christian Finnegan

Key Biscayne is a wonderful place to go for a run. I have multiple routes that I run depending on the distance I’m traveling that day. I can run the loop around the residential part for 3 miles, I can run towards the lighthouse for up to 5 or even 6 miles, but lately I have stuck to running through Crandon Beach. That run can be anywhere from 2 to 10 or more miles (10 is my longest run, back a few years ago). During the entire pandemic I have stuck to 3 or 4 mile runs.

My run from earlier in the week.

***Side Note: I usually run with no glasses or contact lenses on. So, if you’re a fellow Key Biscayne resident who has seen me and waved at me or tried to get my attention on a run, I’m not ignoring you. I just didn’t see you. The loud music in my ears doesn’t really help the situation either. When running with no glasses all of your faces look like I’ve just been sprayed with Scarecrow’s Fear Gas (Batman Begins).

Batman Begins • Fear Gas

Let’s get back on track and talk about the strange thing I noticed lately. The weird thing I noticed lately is that people (most likely tourists) love trying to get coconuts to fall from trees. And they love trying to break them open to drink some coconut milk (or coconut water). I’m not even sure what’s inside of the coconut. Since they’ve always been around me, I don’t even think about them. I kind of forget they even exist.

This leads me to my main question: Do they not have Coconuts on trees in other cities, states, countries? Are we the only place with coconut trees? Palm trees? Are coconuts indigienous to Key Biscayne or South Florida?

This past week I saw one kid filming his friend trying to break a coconut open and drink from it. Is that that interesting? Last week, I saw a bunch of dudes trying to throw objects at hanging coconuts. Attempting to get them down.


Side Story: My Coconut Experience
I guess as a kid I had a friend with a machete once. Why? I don’t know, we were kids and we found a machete. We found a coconut on the ground and tried to break it open with our newly acquired machete. Once it was opened we saw there wasn’t much liquid or anything useful inside. After that, I was never really interested in a coconut again.


Maybe it’s a macho thing. It’s only dudes that I ever see trying to pull down and break open coconuts. Sometimes it’s a group or two guys. Most of the time it’s a guy trying to impress a girl. Don’t you know how stupid you look? Has any girl ever been impressed by a dude opening a coconut? Maybe on a remote island where there is nothing to eat or drink.

In Moana the people of Motunui depend heavily on the coconut.

“Consider the coconut (The what?)
Consider its tree
We use each part of the coconut
That’s all we need

We make our nets from the fibers
The water is sweet inside
We use the leaves to build fires
We cook up the meat inside

Consider the coconut
The trunks and the leaves
The island gives us what we need
And no one leaves”

from “Where You Are” • Moana (Original Motion PicTure Soundtrack)

But I did not grow up in Motunui (as much as I wish I had). I grew up in Key Biscayne. And we have a Winn Dixie, so we don’t need to live off of the wild coconuts and all of its parts. It’s more of a decorative thing for us. So, stop messing with our coconuts you tourists!