Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We're moving!

We're moving!

From now on, all posts and updates will be at our new home,!

 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....


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:

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!

(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
(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


verb (used without object)
to walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air.
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.

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.


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!

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

Friday, January 4, 2013

Character Breakdown: Duke Nukem

 Name: Duke Nukem
Games(s): The Duke Nukem series
  • Big
  • Extremely Strong
  • Proficient In All Forms of Weaponry
  • Macho
  • Chauvinistic
  • Testosterone-fueled
  • Skilled with a jet pack
  • The Mighty Boot
We reached 50 likes on our Facebook page, completing the Activate the Book of Faces quest and giving us an extra character treatment this weekend.  Way to go, guys!

Hail to the king, baby!  Duke Nukem is quite possibly one of the most iconic characters of the 90s video game scene.  Starring in several increasingly successful games and sequels, Duke then became a legend of another kind when the much anticipate Duke Nukem Forever was indefinitely suspended, ending up going on a winding 14 year development cycle between multiple publishers and developing houses before finally being released.  Unfortunately, the long development time didn't treat him well, and it seems as though Duke needs to catch up to the times a bit, at least in terms of mechanics, but hey, like every great 90s action hero, he can always relive the glory days, eh?

Let's start off by saying Duke is an asshole.  He's the hero of the world, but he's also a chauvinistic, testosterone-laden, womanizing, macho man.  Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'm going to tell you right now that these posts are going to be a celebration of the ridiculous character that he is.  I should hope if you're a reader of this blog you should know by now that these views don't represent me, but holy crap do they make for an amusing character, so let's suspend our rationality and morality for a bit and just live with the awesomeness that is a hyper-male existing in a world of exploding alien guts, ridiculous guns, and strippers.

In the Duke Nukem workout, we're going to be building big muscles, big strength, and big kicks with The Mighty Boot.  You're going to need a weight set for this, and we're going to be lifting for big gains and big power.  I strongly recommend coupling this with The Big Guy diet, your macho muscles are gonna need a lot of food!

In the skills of Duke Nukem, we're going to check out jet packs, talk about ridiculous guns, and explore the mechanics of a proper front kick(particularly one executed with steel toed boots).

In the Swagger of Duke Nukem we're not going to delve into a deep psychological analysis of Duke, like we would with normal characters.  Hell no, that's sissy crap.  Instead, we're going to talk about how to be a proper ladies man, how to confront massive enemy aliens, and how you should properly react when the world is exploding around you.

Stay tuned, Nuke-fans, this is gonna be one hell of a fun ride, as we properly celebrate the ridiculousness of 90s male video game machismo.  Bitchin'!!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

A Quick Pimpin'

Hey guys, not exactly blog related, but a good friend of mine is putting out the call for help on his company's Kickstarter!  Meriwether is an Oregon Trail-esque game based on the travels of Lewis and Clark.  They've got 60 hours left on their pledge drive, are 98% funded, and need only $1,600 more to succeed! Go help check it out, and consider throwing a few bucks at a cool project!

Be the HERO of Your Life Part 2: Road to Greatness

Hey all!  Just so you know, we are only one like away from completing our current quest, Activate the Book of Faces!  Just one more like and I'll do a whole extra character series this weekend!  Get on it!  Also cool, it's only the fourth of the month and this is already the third busiest month in the blog's history!  w00t w00t!  You guys rock, keep spreading the word!  Also, there's a Reddit post to upvote, if you enjoy that sort of thing.

So today we're moving into the second phase of our three-part series, Be the Hero of your Life.  Part 1 is here.  These posts are following the template of The Hero's Journey, from the theory of The Monomyth by Joseph Campbell.  Part one dealt with the "Departure" phase of the hero's journey, today we move on to part two, "Initiation."


The Road of Trials
The road of trials is the initial tests and tasks faced by the hero of the story, typically presented in sets of three, with at least one test or trial resulting in failure.  In our own journey to emulate our favorite video game character, we will face many initial tests and trials.  Changing a lifestyle is not easy, which is why whenever we talk about it, we talk about breaking it down into small steps.  Think of each one of these little steps as a test on your own "Road of Trials."  Every day you will be tested and tried, especially in the beginning of your journey, when your body is resisting change.  Keep in mind that failure is something that happens to everyone, even heroes, and that the true mark of champion is to keep going, even if you sometimes fail.

The Meeting with the Goddess
This part of the hero's journey represents unconditional love, like a child's love of their parent.  It represents the beginning of the end of duality in the hero.  This duality can be good and evil, selfishness and generosity, cruelty and compassion, or fear and courage.  It can be external, in the finding of true love, or internal, in the hero's own thoughts and feelings.

In changing our life, we deal with duality every single day.  Your body and your mind likes habits, and dislikes change.  Frequently you may feel as though you are at war with yourself(heck, I know I do).  In order to complete your journey and change your life, however, you need to reconcile these differences within yourself.  This doesn't mean trying to squash your contrary side, however, you need to remember that this is a part of your, and a person divided can never really achieve full, lasting change with themself.  You need to accept that this part of you exists, and rather than try to change it through force, woo it with gradual change, compromise, compassion, and forgiveness.  Learn to love yourself, and everything else becomes easier.

Woman as the Temptress
In the male-dominated idea of the monomyth, occasionally the hero is tempted by a woman at the same time or shortly after his meeting with the goddess.  The woman in these myths typically represents the hero's base, earthly desires, rather than his divine calling.  In the modern, non-male-dominated sense, this is the idea of how a hero's base, animalistic instincts and urges can overrun their higher calling.

We must be careful, when trying to woo the more base, habit-and-instinct guided side of ourselves, that we do not become the woo'ee rather than the woo'er.  Healthy compromise is saying, "I'm going to slowly cut down on the amount of junk food, week-to-week, to make it as painless as possible, and still leave open the option for the one-a-week treat."  Unhealthy compromise is, "Well I worked out extra hard this week, so I deserve an extra candy bar," or, "I've been handling so many stressful situations lately, I deserve that extra cigarette."  Remember, the only thing that you deserve is a healthier, more balanced, and ultimately more fulfilling life.

Atonement with the Father
Again, in the patriarchal forming of the monomyth, the father represents the ultimate power, or deity, in the hero's life.  The power doesn't have to be male, or even have a gender, though.  This is the center point of the journey, all steps lead to, or from, it, and it is the reason for the hero's journey.  In order to complete their journey, the hero must face death, either literal, or metaphorical, at the hands of the great power, or as a result of the actions of the hero in reaction to the great power.

What, on our journey, is our great power, or "father?"  This is kind of a personal question, as it has to do with the reason for beginning your journey.  For me, my great power that I must atone with is the potential of life, and myself, in conjunction with the limited time we have, physically, on this planet.  There is so much to see and do here, and so much that I feel I need to get done before I die, and no real way to know how much time I actually have here.  In my life it's driven me to the heights of frantic, overworked productivity, and to the depths of apathetic, hopeless depression.

Apotheosis, "The elevation of exaltation of a person to the rank of a god."  This is what comes after the hero's death.  The hero moves past the division of divine and earthly desires, and division of the self, to enter into divine knowledge and the fulfillment of his or her purpose.  This can be as simple as a quiet rest after victory, or as literal as entering heaven, or the afterlife, in peace.

In our own journey, our apotheosis is the full realization of an entirely new lifestyle, an entirely new personhood for ourselves.  We've completed our long journey of lots of little steps, and learned entirely new things about ourselves.  The old, unhealthy, self-destructive, and uneducated self is gone, and you are a new, more complete, and fulfilled person.  I haven't quite gotten here yet, myself, but I am working towards it like I never have before, and this blog is part of the fulfillment of that process, and my own "atonement with the father."

The Ultimate Boon
The final goal, the holy grail, the fountain of eternal youth, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  This is what the hero sought out when they began their journey.  All of the steps leading up to now have served to prepare the hero to receive this price, purifying, unifying, and testing him or her along the way.

Your ultimate boon, again, is personal, so it's difficult to discuss in this manner.  However, I'm willing to surmise that it isn't just a physical change in your body, but more a realization of a new, more epic lifestyle.  We play video games, in part, to live out certain fantasies we have in our own mind.  By setting your feet on the path that you have traveled to get to this point, you probably wanted to bring those dreams a bit closer to reality.  Perhaps your ultimate boon, then, is to make yourself into the bold, vibrant figures you see on your screen, and gain the power to make the world a bit more bold and vibrant in the process.

Phoenix, by GENZOMANCheck out his gallery on Deviantart, awesome stuff, including some badass video game art.

So that's it for the hero's journey, today.  We will conclude on Monday, with "Return."  Keep an eye on the blog over the weekend, though.  Sunday will feature the first weekly update from Jackie and myself, on our journeys begun in New Year's Part 1(Dan) and New Year's Part 2(Jackie).  We also may yet get a bonus character post!  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

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Be The HERO of Your Life Part 1: Beginnings

First off, holy crap guys, we broke 10,000 pageviews yesterday!  That's awesome!  We're averaging 50-80 unique visitors and 150-200 pageviews a day now, with readership doubling every two months or so!  That's freaking awesome!  Keep spreading the word, folks, we're building a real community, here!  In other cool news, I registered the other day, and the site redesign has begun!  We'll be moving there soon, but for now, we're still hanging out here on blogspot.  When the new site launches I'll also be launching the Be a Game Character youtube channel, with all kinds of nifty stuff.  Keep spreading the word about the blog, though, we're going places!

On to today's topic, and that is, being the hero of your own life!

We're going to talk a bit about the Hero's Journey, a distillation of principled steps from the Monomyth by Joseph Campbell.   If you've ever had a high school or college level class on creative writing, film, or game design, you've probably heard of these terms before.  If you have not, basically Joseph Campbell distilled common elements from many different myths from all around the world into a single process of storytelling, where the hero follows a prescribed path consisting of certain steps.  Not all steps have to be included, but they provide a basic framework.  The Hero's Journey is found in modern culture quite often, in movies such as the original Star Wars trilogy with Luke Skywalker, or the most recent film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, in this case with both Aragorn and Frodo(borrowing different parts of the journey).

So how does this pertain to you?  Well, my friend, we're going to learn how to make you the hero of your own story.  We're going to be walking through the summary provided here, and applying it to your everyday life.

Let's begin, shall we?


The Call to Adventure
The call to adventure is the start of your journey.  Calls to adventure come from everywhere if we know where to look for them, but if you're here, the call to adventure probably came from within you.  You seek something, to be like a character from your childhood, perhaps, or to live in a world of epics and fantasy.  Whatever the reason, you're here, looking to change your life, and beginning a journey.

Refusal of the Call
Maybe this isn't the first time you've heard this call.  Maybe you've tried to change your life before, and failed, discouraged.  Maybe you haven't tried before, out of fear, uneasiness, or lack of conviction.  If this is the case, then bravo for making it this far.  You've already begun to commit to a new adventure, you can do this!  Never give up, never surrender.

Supernatural Aid
Once the hero has accepted the call to adventure, their guide/mentor/spirit appears.  Think Navi, but less annoying.  Or GLaDOS, but less lethal.  But we have a hard time with the supernatural in the real world, so what have you got?  Well, for starters, there's this blog.  I am anything but supernatural, but the internet is a pretty cool thing, and I'm definitely here to help you with whatever I can.  Additionally, there's tons of other like-minded people here, with more coming every day.  You're not alone, and you've got help if you need it.  All of the game character breakdowns are there to provide you with a path to begin following.

Crossing the Threshold
This is the point where the hero has begun his or her adventure, stepped through the magic portal, and into a realm where the rules and laws they once lived by mean nothing, and the unknown is prevalent everywhere.  This is a scary first step.  If you're beginning a drastic change to your lifestyle, there's a lot of unknowns you're going to have to deal with.  Take it easy, and break it into chunks.  Remember what we talked about with New Year's Part 1 and Part 2, about setting goals and making a plan, and the difference between the two.

The Belly of the Whale
The old world is gone, and the hero is in a new world of adventure and mystery.  The old world ties have been recognized and severed, and the hero is truly in the lurch.  Different from crossing the threshold, this is the moment after you have made that initial decision, and truly taken that first step.  You just got through your first week of transitions, and you recognize how much your life is going to change.

Working out on a regular basis is a new thing for you, you still aren't sure if you're doing it correctly or not, and it's too soon to see much of a result.  Or, you've decided to make a mental change, going for more confidence, perhaps, or to seek inner peace, or become a better leader.  You've begun to step outside your comfort zone, and you suddenly see the mountain of a journey between you and your goal.

This can be a scary and discouraging point sometimes.  Take heart, though!  Life itself is a journey.  You're going to be going in a direction, regardless of what you choose or don't choose to do.  Why not make that direction up?  "If all you can do is crawl, start crawling." - Rumi

Look at your life as a journey, an adventure, and something new to experience every single day.  You have a roadmap laid out before you with The Hero's Journey, lay out your framework yourself, and follow it.  This is only Part One, we will be breaking down the other two stages, Intitiation and Return, in coming posts.  For now, take a moment, and see where you are along this starting path.  Look back at Your Life as an RPG, and make up a character sheet for yourself.  Seriously!  Write down levels you want to attain, experience points and small missions to get there, and so on.

For instance, this year, one of the things I want to do is begin to become fluent in spanish.  I've always understood a smattering of it, but I want to make a really solid push this year.  So I'm going to lay it out as such:

Dan Wallace, Level 21(arbitrary level number, lulz)
Every 200 XP is a new level!
Quest: Acquire the Tongue of the Spaniard

Mission 1:
Acquire Pimsleur Learning Spanish Volume 1, 2, and 3
Reward: 50 XP

Mission 2:
Complete Spanish Volume 1
Reward: 150 XP

Mission 3:
Complete Spanish Volume 2 
Reward: 100 XP
  • Side quest: Hold several conversations with a native speaker Reward: 100 XP
Mission 4:
Complete Spanish Volume 3 
Reward: 100 XP

Visit a country where Spanish is the native language.  Engage the locals, and try not to speak any english during visit!
Reward: 300 XP

There!  I've laid out a quest line for myself.  You can see, if I finish the whole quest line, I'm able to gain four levels.  This may sound kind of silly, but seriously, try charting your progress like this!  I think I'm going to start laying out a character sheet for myself, actually, I think that would be a lot of fun!  Maybe I'll do a post about it...


That's it for today.  We'll be revisiting the Hero's Journey in the days to come, as well as a Week 1 progress update for Jackie and myself on our current year-long quest of better physical health(again, outline in New Year's Part 1 and Part 2)  Tomorrow we cover Initiation!  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

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gamer Food: Awesome Oatmeal

Hey guys!   Gonna start a new occasional series on the blog with Gamer Food, easy-to-make, healthy, tasty meals that don't take too much time out of your gaming sessions(and/or life).  We start today with...

Dan's Awesome Oatmeal
1/2 cup oatmeal(slow cook if you have time, quick oats if you don't, always go for the stovetop, regardless)
1 cup water or skim milk(skim milk adds a little more calories and protein, worth it in my opinion)
1/3 cup greek yogurt(whatever flavor you prefer)
1 tablespoon raisins or dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped granola bar(I like nature valley oats and honey)
1 tablespoon chopped nuts(I like walnuts, personally)

Bring the water or skim milk to a low simmer.  Stir in the oatmeal.  Continue to stir the oatmeal slowly, allowing it to thicken until you reach desired creaminess.  Remove from heat.  Add in the greek yogurt, then the other mix-ins, stirring slowly.

The yogurt helps to cool off the oatmeal faster, so you can eat it sooner!  The mix-ins add a bit more in the calorie department, but they round out the meal nicely.  Greek yogurt adds more protein and nice flavor to the(let's be honest here) bland oatmeal.  The cranberries or raisins add some vitamins, flavor, and polyphenols(especially the cranberries).  The chopped up granola bar adds good texture and flavor(which is why I prefer the hard, dry granola bars vs. the soft chewy ones), and the nuts add some more protein and good fats.

All told, you final nutrition facts for the meal are...

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 496
Fat: 18g
Carbs: 99g
Fiber: 12g
Protein: 27g

So the calories, carbs, and fat may look a bit high for a single meal, especially if you're on the fighter diet. Fear not!  There is good fat and cholesterol in this from the nuts, and the high caloric and carbohydrate load are excellent for a morning breakfast as it will give you the fuel you need for an active day(you are working out on a regular basis, right?).  That said, here are some..

Ways to Modify:

To Get Skinny:
Take out the granola bits and greek yogurt, use water instead of skim milk.  Substitute low/no calorie sweetener such as stevia or agave.  Should knock off almost 200 calories and a good bit of fat/carbs.

To Get Big:
Add some more greek yogurt and nuts, and switch whole milk in for the skim milk.  Consider adding some whey protein powder, as well.  This will beef up the calories and protein.

That's it for today!  Tune in tomorrow for a look at starring in your own RPG, with you as the hero of the story(kind of like our Dovahkiin Skills post, but...different...).  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

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Part 2: Resolutions ROCK!

First!  Let me say we are a mere THREE likes away from completing our current quest, Activate the Book of Faces.  Three more and I do a bonus character post!

So, yesterday we examined why New Year's Resolutions suck.  Today we're going to talk about why New Year's Resolutions ROCK!

A new year is a fresh start, and a chance to change your life with a perceived "clean slate."  This attitude is fantastic, because changing your life for the better is something everyone can(and should) always do.  The problem with this attitude, as stated in yesterday's post, is that it sets you up for failure if you expect too much of yourself.

Instead, I propose that we look at EVERY day as the first day of the new year.  Not to get cheesy or cliche about it, but every day is a chance to start again.  You are a different person today than you were yesterday.  The decisions you made yesterday can carry over into today, yes, but from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you always have the chance to make different ones.

Ate a candy bar, a milkshake, and four cookies yesterday?  Well that sucks.  Does that make any difference today?  Well, it might cause a bit of a bump on the scale, but that is fuel.  Too often I let decisions of the past cloud my judgement, alter my motivation, or ruin my mood.  I'm sure some of you do this, as well.  It's human!  But remember, this blog is about surpassing our own limitations, human as they may be, and make a difference in our lives.  Those bad decisions?  They're not something for you to feel guilty about.  They're fuel to push you further, farther, faster, and harder.  So what, you ate a candy bar yesterday?!  Show yourself how strong you can be by not eating one today.

If every day is a new year, a blank sheet of paper, then you are free to write your story in any way you choose.

You are your own video game character.  Every time you have a choice in life, that little conversation wheel from a Bioware game pops up in your head, and you get to pick which way you go with that decisions.  New Year's resolutions ROCK because they give us the goal we're striving for.  Every time we have that wheel pop up in our head, we can look at our choices and say, "Which one of these moves towards my resolution?  Which one fits my step-by-step plan?"

This brings us to our new challenger, today.  In addition to plotting my own progress(starting with the previous post), my lovely wife, Jackie, will be joining me! 

(Editor's Note: Jackie hates pink.  Hates hates hates it.  She intentionally picked an unflattering clothing choice because she wants to dislike this picture to help push her every time she sees it!)

Name: Jackie Wallace
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 193.5 lbs
  • Martial Artist
  • Determined
  • Resilient
  • Excellent Chef
  • Supreme Organizer
  • Devious Ass-kicker
  • Fantastic wife and step-mother
Jackie is no stranger to changing her life, or starting over again.  This time last year she was in the full swing of a new diet and workout program.  She stayed faithful and dedicated for eleven months, losing 64 pounds, going from 230 lbs to 166 lbs.  It was truly remarkable to watch.  Unfortunately, then her father got much sicker, and we ended up having to change our lifestyles drastically.  I also injured my foot around the same time, so she lost her workout partner.  Since then, she has gained some of that weight back, currently sitting at 193.5 lbs as of yesterday.

Jackie's got some goals for this year, as I do, and they are as follows:
Goals(by December 31st, 2013):
140 pounds, toned and fit, by June
Maintain that weight.
Be physically capable of doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants, and have the confidence to wear whatever clothing she wants while doing it.
Able to run an entire Tough Mudder(the first one she ran she took a little over four hours, and walked a lot of it)

So let's look at the first goal, and break it down.  It's a pretty lofty goal, putting her at just under ten pounds lost every month between now and then.  This is possible, but it is at the upper level of what is considered as "healthy weight loss."  As such, she's really gonna have to bust her butt to make it happen.  But, being impatient and trying to make sweeping changes right off the bat is probably just going to set her up for failure.  As such, we need to break it down incrementally.  She needs to alter her diet, and her workout program.  On the diet front, her change for this week is to remove all sweets.  This means that to start off her year, we're starting by cutting out the candy, cookies, and dessert, and replacing them with fruit, veggies, and whole grain granola bars.

On the workout front, she's going to be doing the Kinect Nike Workout program, subbing in some exercises from the Lara Croft workout, as well as some dumbell exercises from the new set we got for Christmas.  For her first week, she's setting a goal of working out twice this week.

So, to summarize..

This week, Jackie will...
Cut out sweets.
Work out twice with the Kinect Nike Fitness program

As we did before, we're laying out simple, measurable, straightforward goals.  No wiggle room, no vague wording.  She's not trying to "eat healthier" and "work out more."  She's cutting out her sweets, and working out twice.  Done.

If she doesn't succeed completely, like we said before, that is just more fuel for the fire that is driving this change in her life.  No regrets, no guilt, just relentless forward progress.

We will be updating you all periodically on our journey, and revisiting our goals and progress markers every week.  Tomorrow's post is an adventure, we'll see where we go when we get there!  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