Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We're moving!

We're moving!

From now on, all posts and updates will be at our new home, http://www.beagamecharacter.com!

 Head over there now and check out the new digs, as well as our next character breakdown, Sonic the Hedgehog!



See you there!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Be the HERO of Your Life Part 3: Earthbound

It's our third and final edition of our "Be the Hero of Your Life" series!  You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here!  These posts are following the three parts of The Hero's Journey, as put forth by Joseph Campbell in his seminal work, The Monomyth.  Part one was "Departure," part two was "Initiation" and now we are moving into part three....

Return

Refusal of the Return
The hero has passed all his or her tests, gone though their reconciliation with the father figure, resisted temptation, and finally reached their goal and received their "great boon."  So why, after all this work, return to normalcy?  Why return through the threshold of a normal life?

In the style of this blog, we model ourselves after our favorite figures from the various video game mythos.  If you have reached this point in your journey, then you have achieved your goals, and become a true embodiment of that hero(or villain).  So how does this step, the refusal, factor into your own story?  Well, the danger of becoming that embodiment is to begin to believe your own legend, and live your fantasy a little too strongly.  Sometimes, if we try to hard to emulate a fantasy character, we have a hard time actually separating that fantasy from the everyday goings-on of the "normal" world.

The Magic Flight
Sometimes, after the hero has received their "great boon," they must escape with great haste.  Think, in the Halo series, of the two iconic warthog sprints from the first and third installments.  Or, for another medium, think Disney's Aladdin after his grabs the lamp and needs to escape the cave of wonders.

Sometimes, when you have achieved your goal, other people will seek to sully your dreams, or belittle you for your achievements.  You cannot let them drag you down.  In this sense, your "magic flight" is really more of a metaphorical one, of escaping the negativity of those who seek to belittle you out of jealousy, or spite.  Do not associate yourself with those who would belittle your efforts and goals.

Rescue from Without
In either the magic flight, or the refusal of the return, the hero can sometimes become entrapped.  The hero may be weary, or injured, or just plain unwilling to return.  In this case, the supernatural force(frequently the hero's original ally and/or mentor) rescues the hero.  To return to our previous examples, you can think of Cortana driving Master Chief on, or the Genie getting Aladdin out of the cave of wonders.  Another great example is Gandalf and the eagles rescuing Frodo and Sam at the end of The Return of the King.

In this sense, either we don't want to leave our fantasy, or there are those that want to pull our goals around us, we must rely on our outside friends and allies to help lift us up and/or give us a dose of reality.  In your journey, you will have probably already found some friends and allies you didn't know you had.  The blog community and I are also always here for you to reach out to if you're looking for some advice or a boost of morale.  You are never alone.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The hero must re-assimilate with the world he or she left behind, while still retaining the knowledge, wisdom, and gifts they achieved on their adventure.  Sometimes this is for the benefit of just the hero, although often is it also for the benefit of the world at large.  This is often rather difficult, or comes at a price.

In our journey, we eventually leave the period of "massive change and growth" and enter the realm of completion, and maintenance.  This step can be as simple as finding good workout and eating schedules for your life now that you want to focus on things other than personal growth, or as difficult as entering back into unhealthy situations that you avoided for a long time, and now need to learn how to inoculate yourself against to keep yourself from relapsing.

Master of the Two Worlds
In some story variants, the hero has achieved enlightenment as a result of their boon.  Legendary figures along these lines include Jesus, or Buddha.  More modern fantasy-based characters you can think of are Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke, or Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed.

You, at this point, are now a success story.  You have seized your life by the reins, decided to change what you don't like, and molded yourself into a person that you like better.  This is an incredibly rare and difficult thing to do, and demonstrates great strength.  It is your choice as to whether or not you would like to share what you've learned while attaining your "enlightenment," but I would hope you might pass it on at least a bit.

Freedom to Live
The hero has achieved all they set out to do.  They have achieved peace, inner and outer, and with it, freedom to life life in the moment.  They are satisfied with what they have done, and have the confidence to face whatever tomorrow throws at them, enabling them to live today to the fullest, without worry about what has gone before, or what may yet come to pass.

This is what I strive for, and what I try to offer you, my friends.  Find your freedom.  Begin your journey, and reach your next level.

(Picture credit: nightmademode.net)

That's it for today.   I really enjoyed this series, and I hope you did, too!  Tomorrow, a new character!  Until then, remember, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!


Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Monday, January 7, 2013

The State of the Blog



Hey folks!  Just wanted to post a quick update on the blog's progress, and where we're going next!  The new site is almost finished, got a few more things to add to it and then we're ready to switch!  I'll be keeping this blog up, with all the old posts on it, but I'll also be importing all of them into the new site, and this site will no longer be getting live updates.  Look for the change sometime later this week!

Next on the agenda is the Youtube channel!  I wanted to go live with it when the new site went live, but I haven't had enough time to build up a decent-sized video buffer yet, so it's probably going to have to wait until next week.  I'll be posting videos of the workouts with proper exercise instruction, individual exercise breakdowns(possibly featuring my wife, as well), and some DIY buildalongs.  I also have plans for a few other cool video ideas, but I'm keeping my lips sealed about them for the time being.

Item number three is update schedule!  Up until now, It's kind of been a will-nilly, post-what-I-feel-like-it update schedule.  This has been fun, and all, but as the blog grows I realize we need a bit more structure than that.  So, the schedule for the immediate future will be:

Sunday: Fitness update for Jackie and myself.
Monday: Grab bag!  Could be a video, something self-improvement related, something fitness related, a new recipe, or some cool links and resources I found online.
Tuesday: Fitness or diet post(video or text)
Wednesday: New character breakdown.
Thursday: New character workout.
Friday: New character skills.
Saturday: New character mind/psychology.

In addition to this, I'm not going to be doing the "character roundup" posts anymore, I'm just going to be adding the links for the various articles to the initial character breakdown as they get written(check out the Duke Nukem Breakdown for an example).

In other cool news, January is already the second-busiest month in the blog's history, in terms of viewers, and we're fast closing on December for the busiest month record...and it's only the 7th!  You guys have been doing a great job of spreading the word, please, keep it up!

I'm also beginning outlines for a series of e-books I'm going to write.  These will be focused on three main character archetypes(assassin, fighter, tank), rather than individual characters, and will be going much further in-depth than the quick four-day outlines we do here.  Expanded workout types, diet information, skills improvements, mental training and prep - the works!  Nothing is going to be a simple copy/paste from the blog, everything is going to be original content, and I'm really psyched about it!  I will keep you all posted as it goes.

Tomorrow we'll be switching over to the new schedule, with a fitness or diet post, and then our next character on Wednesday!  Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Jackie and Dan's Journey - Update 1



Hey all, Jackie and I finished our first week of new fitness goals of the New Year!  We've each done a writeup on how the week went, which you will find below!

Jackie:
(last update here)
My first week has sucked (really sucked). I have hated every moment of it and I equated myself to a drug addict at times. I was very confrontational and cranky. I yelled at Dan (a lot). I was extremely reluctant to begin any sort of exercise, thinking up every excuse under the sun for why I was unable to do any of the routines I had planned out prior. Basically, I acted worse than my 4-year old step son having a tantrum about taking nap. However, I mentally bitch slapped myself, also apologized to Dan, and managed to get in 3 workouts so far.

I purchased a Stability Ball and loved playing around with it (not actually exercising). I went for a slow, meandering, 30 minute walk with Dan on January 1st. On January 2nd, I decided I would have to actually use the Stability Ball for what it was purposed, exercise. I LOVED it. It was amazing. Example: I always do sit-ups when I have an exercise routine. In the past I have had issues with posture, hurting my neck, and hurting my back. When I tried the sit-ups on the Stability ball, it was like I became a new person and I actually enjoyed the exercise and had no pain from bad form!

My third form of exercise was Kinect Training, it was phenomenal. I yelled at my trainer the whole time, called her a bitch quite a bit (and enjoyed it). If you've never tried this method of exercise, like me, it was new, exciting, and made me work up a sweat. There is also no judgment. I had set-up a schedule a week ago and did not stick to it. When I logged in the first time, my trainer didn't guilt me or mention it. She was focused on the exercise only and the results, it was also exciting to hear her tell me when I did something right or was doing better. Awesome investment for my new life.

In regards to food, I have struggled here as well. Side note: this has not been a very easy or gracious transition, I have been kicking and screaming the whole way because honestly, this lifestyle takes work, effort, and thought, and I have allowed myself to sink into very bad lifestyle where excuses rule supreme and I did whatever I wanted out of laziness. Ok, back to food. I am using Weight Watchers to track what I eat and how much. It has been going pretty ok. I have managed to stay on task and not over eat, which is what kills my weight loss attempts.

Right now I am going through the withdrawal phase where my body/brain thinks it is hungry simply because it is sued to over eating. I am not actually hungry and do not require more food so I have to constantly remind myself of this fact and not cave into the base instinct to keep cramming unneeded food into my system. Weight Watchers has been good in keeping me honest. As for the no sweets goal, totally failed it. I will never again make that goal, it was stupid. I should have made a more realistic goal of cutting back on sweets and only having two treats in one week.

This is a work in progress and I do not feel bad for failing at a goal I set. My goals are not rigid, they will not yell at me, and I cannot allow inner me to beat me up either. Instead, I've learned and I will adjust for round 2!!! I'm determined to make a health change and every step I learn something new about myself. Now I just have to take what I learned and applied it and tell the 4-year old inside to shut the F**k up because she is unwanted. Also, this is the first time I have ever volunteered to put myself out there for people I do not know (I don't really even do it for those I do know), it is scary but I think it also helps keep me honest.

Starting Weight: 193.5
Current Weight: 192.4
Dan
(previous update here)
Week one was kind of fun for me!  Living unhealthily for the past few months has been easy, but also guilt-inducing.  It's not my normal mode, and I honestly didn't feel at my best throughout the whole time.  Starting to slip back into old habits this week felt kind of freeing, and good.  I'm coming at this from a different position than people trying to lose weight for the first time in their lives, so I think I had a bit easier time of it than Jackie did.

This is not to say, of course, that the week without its hardships.  Diet-wise, my goals were skim milk on my morning cereal, and oatmeal for my second breakfast.  The skim milk decision wasn't that hard.  I honestly think skim milk tastes nasty, but I didn't notice it much in my cereal, so it wasn't that big a deal.  The oatmeal was much harder, because to get it, I go into my work's cafeteria, and to get to it in the cafeteria, I have to walk past yummy hand-made breakfast sandwiches, breakfast platters, and assorted meats and cheeses.  The smells and sights were quite hard to resist, but I stuck to my guns and didn't get anything but oatmeal the whole week!

On the workout front, working out for the first time was REALLY an eye opener for me.  I don't think I've been this out of shape in a while and I was not expecting it.  I ran through the Ezio strength workout(level 2), and went for a walk on my first night.  Holy crap, next day my legs were so sore it hurt to walk!  Extra rest day was needed!  Before the end of the week though, I had gotten in another brisk walk, and a walk/run(Ezio cardio workout levels 1 and 2).  My goal was one strength and one cardio, and I surpassed that with two extra cardio sessions, which I'm very happy about.

Going forward next week, I'm going to start cracking down on my liquids and lunches.  Liquids-wise, I drink WAY too much calories and crap.  I average an energy drink, a couple sodas, and a beer every day, which is a whole lot of empty calories when you add it all up.  I'm switching to sugar-free red bull, one diet soda a day, and water for the rest.  Beer I'm going to wean myself down to 2-3 a week, which is actually good because they I can justify spending more on tasty high-end craft brews since I'm drinking less!

Starting weight: 210 lbs
Current weight: 208 lbs

That's it for us for this week.  We'll continue to post updates every week, to chart our progress for you nice folks, and keep US honest.  We're also going to do a photo comparison update once a month!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Swagger of Duke Nukem

swag·ger

[swag-er]
verb (used without object)
1.
to walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air.
2.
to boast or brag noisily.

So, we took a look at confidence recently in The Mind of Lara Croft, and how it was different from arrogance.  Well, today we're going to look at, for lack of a better term...swagger.  Duke Nukem isn't just confident.  He also isn't really arrogant either.  He acts with all the flamboyancy of arrogance, but he has the skills and abilities to back up this arrogance, so it's really more of a...hyper-confidence.

You may have met people like this before in your life.  Actually, no, you probably haven't, no one matches up to Duke Nukem.  No one.  But in all seriousness, look at how Duke deals with his everyday life.  Nothing gets to him, nothing.  He's never shaken, or rattled, and he never gives any emotional or psychological ground to his foes.  He's, quite frankly, not human.

Matching this same level of swagger would, most likely, make you seem aloof and untouchable to those around you.  However, the mindset of not letting anyone or anything mess with you is not necessarily a bad one to aim for.  Standing your ground and/or pushing back against everything that gets in your way is definitely a way of living.  Some may argue against the wisdom in it, but there are people that make it through life with this attitude.

If you're looking to emulate this personification, you first need to convince yourself of the front you're putting out.  You need to be confident in your abilities and skills, as well as your ability to utilize them under extreme pressure.  Part of this comes from being able to improvise when necessary.  Remember, you can basically put any kind of weapon, firearm, or explosive in Duke's hand and he can demolish an alien army with is.  That's resourcefulness that can't be taught!

You also need to develop an extremely think skin.  You need to keep anything anyone could say or do from getting to you.  A great way to do this is to start trying out open mic nights at night clubs, comedy clubs, etc.  You will get all manner of reaction to things on stage.  If you want a fun waste of a few hours, go start chaining through comedian heckling videos on Youtube. Jimmy Carr is one of my favorites.  Dry, unshakeable british humor.

Also pretty much necessary is the ability to take a punch, physically.  Get down to a local MMA, boxing, or kickboxing gym, and get your ass kicked.  Seriously.  Getting actually hit and/or beat up on a regular basis does a lot to take out any fear of physical confrontation, and, by the same measure, will help build your confidence in those situations too.

Remember, though, we are not just talking normal confidence here.  This is swagger.  This is hyper-confidence.  Once you know you have the skills, you need to start believing that you are the shit, and acting like it, too.  This doesn't even mean challenging every random person you see on everything they say and do.  Then you're just an asshole.  No, you need to walk around and act with the arrogance of knowing you're better than them, and that they're not even worth your time.  Believe me, if you start thinking this enough, it will come out in your actions and deeds in everyday life.

Be prepared for the consequences, though, you won't make many friends this way.  You might begin to notice a weird sort of follower, or fan effect.  People with low moral and self confidence tend to sort of naturally gravitate towards people with swagger.  Seriously!  The danger in this is, you need to realize they are attached to the front that you put out.  They are not necessarily actual friends of yours, the are more like followers.

If you do decide to walk this path, it's your choice.  Duke Nukem is a larger-than-life character, and honestly, kind of an asshole.  He would be even more so in the real world.  But I'm here to help you become the character of your choosing, and if that choice is Duke Nukem, then dammit, I'm going to help you become Duke.

After I post this, I'm going to be doing up the weekly check-up on Jackie and myself with our yearly goals.  Tomorrow we're going to have a bit of a "State of the Blog" post, with some cool news and plans for the future.  Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Skills of Duke Nukem



Alright, ladies, hopefully by now the Duke Nukem workout is putting some hair on your chest, so you're ready to learn the skills of the king.  Don't worry, we'll burn all that hair off soon enough.

Jet Packs

Let's start off by saying jet packs are freaking sweet.  Besides the fact that they let you fly, they're also basically channeling the fury of a fiery, sun-like explosion through tiny nozzles, strapped directly to your back.  MANLY AS F$&*!  Also, jet packs actually exist in the real world, although we're going to take a look into how actually functional they are, with a tour through history.

Himmelst├╝rmer 
The German Sky Stormer was the first jetpack ever really manufactured in modern times(world war 2).  It ran off of pulse jets, and was intended to get German engineers past barbed wire and mine fields.  The device worked pretty well for its purpose, enabling users to make "jumps" of 150 feet or more, but it didn't grant true "flight," or see much actual combat usage.

Jump Belt AKA Project Grasshopper
Serving basically the same purpose as the Sky Stormer, the Jump Belt/Project Grasshopped used compressed nitrogen instead of pulse jet rockets, and enabled the user to make seven meter high jumps, or run at speeds upward of 40 kMPH.  No true flight, though

Hydrogen-Peroxide Rocket Packs
Several companies manufactured different versions of this jet pack, which uses nearly pure hydrogen peroxide, and a catlyst(usually silver), to grant the user sustained flight.  Unfortunately, fuel capacity of your average human only enables flight for thirty to forty-five seconds, but this is still the first commercially successful jet pack, seen at public sporting events, and in a James Bond movie.

Other Notable Attempts
There are several other personal flight devices in existence.  One is Yves Rossy's winged jetsuit, pretty damn cool, but has to be launched from something already in flight, and isn't capable of vertical takeoff.  Then there's The Jetlev, also cool, but it requires a tether, and it's water powered so...  There's also multiple models of back-mounted helicopter in development, but, these unfortunately haven't hit the market yet, though they offer the best hope for sustained, personal flight devices.

Unfortunately, the dream of a sustained jetpack flight is still beyond us mere mortals.  The back-mounted helicopter market is still an option, however, so don't get your panties in a twist.

Guns and Explosions

Hell.  Yeah.  Nothin manlier than some big-ass guns and explosions.  That's what the Duke is all about, baby.  For the guns, the gun market is always volatile, and currently, if you're in the US, a showdown seems to be brewing over gun control.  Without entering into that debate, let's look at what options we have.

We have, before, talked about sport shooting ranges.  These are always an option, you can typically find them online, they exist in most locations, and heck, it's a lot cheaper than buying a bunch of guns for yourself.  You can usually go down and try out a whole bunch of fun, exotic guns for a fair price, with trained professionals in a safe environment.  To step out of character here for a moment, safety first, always, when it comes to guns AND explosives.  It's not cool to risk yours, or anyone elses, life.  Period.

Speaking of explosives, what's a person to do to get your BOOM BOOM fix?  No, not that boom boom, this boom boom! Well, unless you're a trained demolitions guy in the military, you're probably not going to get that kind of boom boom fix anytime soon.  At least not on that scale.  However, there's always fireworks(assuming they're legal in your area).  Honestly, an M80 can provide plenty of explosive fun, provided you're safe about it...  And again, safety first.  You don't want to end up blowing your hand off.

The Mighty Boot

The Mighty Boot.  Duke's signature melee attack.  Capable of stunning, damaging, and even beheading foes.  Of course, you can't just strap on some steel-toes and go swinging for the hills.  Hell no.  For a kick this epic, you need technique.

For a driving power-kick, you want to bring your knee up straight in front of you, high and tight to your
body, bending it in the process.  Then, drive your foot straight forward, pushing out with the heel of your foot, with your food held vertical.  This will drive your target back, and striking with the heel means you have maximum force focused in a small area(more power!).

For a devastating point kick, you first need to be wearing your steel-toes(or you're gonna break your damn toes).  Then, you want to lift your knee up, bending it and bringing your foot back as far as you can(try and get your heel to your ass).  Point your knees towards your target, and unload your shoe, striking as hard as you can with your steel toes.  Try to do this all in one fluid motion, and remember, the knee points to the target!


There you go, all of Duke's signature style packed into one testosterone-fueld manpost.  Enjoy!  Tomorrow's our last post, with The Swagger of Duke Nukem. Unless you're not going to check it out, in which case, I gotta know, what are you? Some bottom-feeding, scum-sucking algae eater?  Just kidding.  See you tomorrow!  And until then, remember to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!


Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

The Duke Nukem Workout



First off, I'm going to begin this post with a shoutout to Nerd Forum.  If you need me to explain what it is...well...  Anyway, I joined up a few days ago, it's an AWESOME little forum, and the people are quite pleasant.  Go register and say hi!  My username there is, of course, DaRatmastah.

ALRIGHT, SISSIES, IT'S TIME TO GET IN DUKE NUKEM SHAPE!!


First off, we don't need no freakin' cardio here!  You know what Duke Nukem Cardio is?  FACEPUNCHING SOME FREAKIN' ALIENS!  If you really want some cardio, I guess you could go ahead and grab a punching bag, to practice FACEPUNCHING!  Also kicking.  The Mighty Boot must remain ever-honed to perfection.

I would recommend eating a HUGE AMOUNT of food, since we're trying to get HUGE.  Probably something like the Big Guy Diet.  Remember, if flexing your biceps around some ugly pig's neck doesn't pop his damn head off, then you just aren't eating and lifting enough!

Now let's see what equipment you're gonna need!

Equipment:
Weight bench
Squat rack
Barbell with weight plates
Dumbells with weight plates

Strength Workout A:
3x10 Bent-over Row(barbell or dumbells)
3x10 Military Press(barbell or dumbells)
3x10 Shoulder Shrugs(dumbells)
3x10 Bicep Curls(dumbells)

Strength Workout B:
3x10 Bench Press(barbell or dumbells)
3x10 Incline Bench Press(barbell or dumbells)
3x10 Behind the Neck Press(barbell)
3x10 Triceps Extension(dumbells)

Strength Workout C:
3x10 Back Squat(barbell)
3x10 Straight Legged Deadlifts(barbell or dumbells)
3x10 Standing Calf Raise(dumbells)
3x10 Trunk Twists(weight plate)
3x10 Oblique Side Bends(dumbell, ten times each side)

Remember if you want to GET BIG you need to REST BIG too.  Take a day off between each workout, so your muscles have time to heal.  Get lots of sleep and food in you, too, you gotta nourish that body.

Now, Duke's got no time for sissies, but even more he doesn't have time for broken sissies, so don't get yourself injured by starting with too much weight.  Even Duke had to start somewhere, and there's no shame in starting with just the weight of the bar.  Also, there's no shame in cutting down reps if you have to, but don't cut out whole sets, or Duke will find you, and he will discipline you.

Later today we'll be going over the Skills of Duke Nukem, so make sure to check back tonight! Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!


Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace