Last month, my girlfriend and I moved into a new apartment. We both agreed that it would be a good idea to “Sage” the new place, since it was something we both had only heard of but never tried.
“Do we just order some sage from Amazon?” she asked me, but I thought that didn’t seem right. I told her we had to find a real witch or visit a Witchcraft & Wizardry shop to pick up some proper sage. Who knows where Amazon sage comes from?*
*Side Quest: I later searched for “Sage” on Amazon and it turns out there are many small businesses (possibly small witchcraft shops) providing it. Still, nothing beats actually going to a witch store yourself.
After some light googling, I found a couple of options for Witchcraft (aka Metaphysical) shops all over Miami. I decided to visit one on US 1, right next to Grown (Ray Allen’s healthy food restaurant I have yet to visit). I really liked this shop, but I’m also excited to visit other local stores in the future and see what kind of vibes I get.
*Side Quest: Before visiting the witchcraft shop I had talked to a friend who is sort of an amateur witch herself about what exactly we needed to cleanse our new apartment. She recommended both Sage and Palo Santo, one to reset and the other to invite positive vibes. It was nice to show up to the witchcraft shop with a little bit of knowledge.
After figuring out what we needed, I visited the shop. I chose this store due to convenience, after leaving a check up at the doctor (my first ever, but maybe you’ll hear about that in another post), this was on the way home. I spoke to a nice lady and learned a lot about Sage, Palo Santo and some other stuff too.
After figuring out exactly what we needed for the new apartment cleansing, I came across a whole section of crystals and elements. I began asking questions about those, and now I am somewhat of a crystal person. My journey began with purchasing a few crystals for my girlfriend and I to carry around in our backpacks.
The cool thing about becoming a crystal person is that you get to choose what to believe and what not to believe. It’s sort of like being a horoscope person.
*Side Quest: Horoscopes are funny because they just state a bunch of information hoping that you will see something you like and say, “Hey, that’s me!.” They also have different variants, like sun and moon signs, that give you even more options to choose from.
Crystals are kind of like horoscopes because each crystal has multiple “uses” or traits (or powers). I chose a few based on particular traits, while ignoring others. I recently talked to a friend about her crystal necklace, and she told me it’s not about believing in the crystals magic powers, but more the idea of it — like a positive thinking thing.
Being a crystal person is sort of like creating your own D&D character, but in real life. Carrying around (and wearing) crystals can add a few points to your daily Dexterity, Charisma, Insight, Wisdom and other character traits. It’s a fun way to edit your life’s character sheet.
*Side Quest: When it comes to religion I always thought it would be way more fun to believe in Greek Mythology. How cool is it to have a different god for each concept. It’s almost like having different superheroes as your gods. Poseidon is like Aquaman (DC) or Namor (Marvel). Thor is a god from Norse mythology — another fun collection of gods and rulers.
Another thing I like about crystals is that I can make up any theory about my crystals and make it a real thing. I can even tell others about it (as long as they are not a certified witch or wizard).
I went back to the store last week and picked up a Lava Stone bracelet, because (1) I want to start wearing my stones to absorb more power, and (2) I’ve always wanted to become more of a bracelet person. Now that Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard is over — and Johnny won — it’s still cool to wear a bunch of bracelets like a pirate, right?
Yesterday, I went for a kayak ride on the open water. I would usually not wear any jewelry, other than my Apple Watch for kayaking, running or working out. I decided to keep my Lava Stone bracelet on to “recharge” it with the ocean water. That’s a thing I possibly made up, but now I feel like my Lava Stones are giving me more powers, so it also worked.
If you are another amateur crystal/stone person who would like to come up with cool facts and ideas about these things let me know. If you aren’t a crystal/stone person, have fun living your boring life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
I don’t know if this is a thing all over the country, or if it’s just a Miami-thing. It mainly takes place outside of small Cuban restaurants with tiny parking lots, and old medical/office buildings near Calle Ocho.
The other day, I visited a dentist office which was in one of these old medical buildings. The building only had about nine parking spots, in one of the tightest, most poorly-planned parking lots I’ve ever driven through. All of the parking spots were full when I arrived, so I waited a bit to see if any cars would leave. In only few seconds a new car showed up behind me and honked for me to get out of their way.
Of course, when that happened someone came down, got in their car, and left, in those few seconds and the dude behind me snaked my spot. It probably wasn’t some dude, it was probably a 90 year old hispanic lady, late for her appointment.
When I drove into the lot, I noticed an old Cuban man who was “guarding” the parking lot. He sat in his stool and would shoot the shit with whatever regulars and locals would come in and out of the building. I put down my window and asked where I could leave my car for just a few minutes while I quickly ran up to pick up some documents.
He asked me how long I was going to be there, a few times, like if he was trying to catch me in a lie. Once he realized I was truly just picking up some documents, he walked over to the VIP parking (probably where the buildings workers and tenants parked), unhooked the VIP chain that was blocking it and let me leave my car there.
When I came back down less than two minutes later the man undid the VIP chain once again for me to leave. He gave me multiple, very specific directions on how to get out, when all I had to do was back out, down a ramp. He made this process much more complicated than it had to be, but I made it out fine. Thanks old Cuban man!
After this experience I wondered if any other cities have these “parking attendant” security people. I’ve seen security in other places, but these old cuban men don’t really count as security. All they can do to stop any incidents is call the police on their flip phone, but any idiot on the street can do that.
After leaving the dentist building I went straight to Barnes & Noble, in Coral Gables. Where they also have a personal parking attendant, Tonto (as I call him). If you’ve ever parked behind Barnes & Noble in Coral Gables between the hours of 9AM and 5PM then you have definitely met Tonto. He’s the old man who looks like he was once an indian chief (or he used to look like that, until he cut his hair).
I think the reason he is there, working the parking lot at Barnes & Noble is because they built it on top of an ancient indian burial ground. I do not understand the point of him being there. Sure, it may scare away a few people trying to get free parking, but for the most part anyone can park there. You just have to be able to answer one simple question, “Where you going today?”
If you tell him you’re visiting Barnes & Noble or FedEx Kinkos, then guess what? You’ve won. And your prize is FREE PARKING in Coral Gables. Both stores have a front and back entrance. You can easily walk in one entrance and out the other and be on your way for hours of fun on Miracle Mile.
Also, don’t forget to get the stamp! When walking through Barnes & Noble or Fedex Kinkos you will find a stamp. Stamp your parking ticket or Tonto will be mad at you. His threat is that you will have to pay if you don’t get the stamp. But I have forgotten to get the stamp plenty of times and I’ve never had to pay.
I don’t even think he knows how much money to ask for. There is no sign that says, “Parking $_.00.” So, even if you don’t get the stamp, he will most likely let you off the hook, “This time!” (as he likes to say, but also every other time).
I also remember going to Cuban restaurants with my parents as a kid, and seeing the old Cuban parking lot guard. It was always an old man on a stool, doing crossword puzzles or some activity to let you know that he definitely wasn’t paying attention to your car. There was always a cone blocking the parking lot entrance, and after a quick stare down to make sure you were “OK,” the man would move the cone and let you park. Then he’d go back to his tall stool, and his game, not paying attention to anyone’s car. However, he would still get a dollar or a few dollars from each of the restaurant patrons.
If you don’t live in Miami and have seen this sort of thing, please comment below and tell me your stories. Also, what nationality are your parking attendants? Because 99% of ours are old Cuban men, I say Tonto is Native American, but I’m pretty sure he’s hispanic. He just has a nice tan from standing in a hot, sunny parking lot in Miami all day.
This week I realized that the last heat game I went to was either during Year One of LeBron or Pre-LeBron. I can’t remember if LeBron was there or not. We were playing the Sixers and it was Black Friday. I know it was Black Friday because I had just mounted my new TV up on the wall that I bought that morning. Miss patty called me. The game had already started and she had just found out she had been given tickets. I kicked my friend out of my house telling him, “Get out! I’m going to Heat game!” We arrived after or during halftime. So, the last time I went to a Heat game I only attended 50% or less.
Why am I telling you this? Because the playoffs have begun and I still haven’t been to a game this season (or the past four or five seasons). Someone needs to take me to a Heat playoff game before it’s too late, and I’m forced to wait for another season. You’re probably thinking I could just buy tickets, but they’re hard to find during the playoffs, plus they are extra expensive.
Even when we sucked it was impossible to get playoff tickets. You had to get a pre-pre-pre-sale code. One time I had a pre-sale code for Amex cardholders and they held like 2 or 3 pre-pre-pre-sales before they even got to the Amex one. By the time I was able to search on Ticketmaster everything was gone. I’ve gone down to the arena the morning of a game, with all the dirty ticket scalpers and that didn’t work out either.
As a kid I would watch every single Heat game on TV. Back when we were no good. I would sit in my room, wearing my Tim Hardaway jersey, holding onto my basketball, yelling at my TV while watching games. I was happy when we won, and very, very angry when we lost (which happened much more).
When I got to Tallahassee for college there were no more Heat games to watch. We were forced to watch the Magic and the Hawks, so I stopped watching basketball. I still had my ESPN updates and Gamecast to let me know what was going on. Some time after college I decided that sports weren’t as important as I thought they once were. With less free time I decided to waste my time watching my shows, movies and playing guitar and video games.
I still remember the day LeBron said those magical words, “I’ll be taking my talents to South Beach.” I’m sure he quickly realized that the Heat don’t actually play on South Beach, but instead in a much smellier, dirtier Downtown Miami. At first I was excited to have LeBron on our team. That first season I watched most of our games, and all of the playoffs. I would get extra angry any time we lost a game. We had LeBron, DWade and the Bosh-man. And all those other dudes too!
After that first season I decided I can’t watch all of these normal games, because I got too angry seeing us lose with the Big Three. I knew we would make the playoffs, even if we weren’t trying. So I waited until then to watch the games that actually counted.
That year we won, and the next year I went through the same thing. Since LeBron was here and even after he left I haven’t been able to follow a full Heat basketball season. This is why I need one of you to take me to a Heat Playoff game. Please, re-ignite the Heat down in my soul! I am ready to believe in the White Hot Heat again, but I just need to see it live to get excited.
Or maybe I’ll attend a game with a nice friendly friend who decides to take me. And afterwards I’ll decide that TV shows are more important. People actually work hard writing this stuff to entertain me. Sports are just a bunch of well-coordinated high school bullies who grew up and made a bunch of money (That’s not true, some of them are nice. Look at Chris Bosh, that guys a huge computer nerd).
I’m not going to say I’m done with sports, because I’m not. I still watch FSU and Dolphin football, because those are only once a week. And I will continue to watch my Chelsea Football (soccer) matches whenever I do wake up for them. However, movies and TV will take priority, and of course video games. Thanks for listening. I look forward to hearing from one of you soon about going to one of these upcoming Heat games.