Char Man

The stories of Char Man are wide and varied, but they all seem to agree on two details: the guy burnt to death, and he’s still around.

There’s a stretch of the 118 freeway where he’s said to jump onto passing vehicles, spraying blood and fire on the windshield to create unsafe driving conditions for the unsuspecting motorist.

My friend Kurt and I were driving that road at some obscene hour, and it occurred to us that we didn’t want to experience this. It felt very likely at the time that we were about to.

So, I did what you would probably have done; what anyone would… I wrote him a theme song.

I guess I thought this would somehow re-frame the experience; give us a new perspective so we don’t panic like other drivers when he chooses to introduce himself. And let’s face it - everyone needs a theme song.

We sang it again and again until we were safely out of range.

This is that song:

There’s also a followup piece, “Char Man’s Holiday” (for the unproduced sequel).

You can listen to that as well:

Note: the volume is unusually low on this one for some reason. I’ll fix that… someday.

FlixMix (1993)

So, I wrote music for three levels of a PC game (FlixMix, published by Celeris in 1993). My career goal at the time was to write music for video games, so this was a pretty good opportunity.

The game ran in DOS, supporting only the lowest-common-denominator music hardware; a sound card first released in 1987. So, the clips you’re about to hear might sound a little dated.

On top of that, there were compromises made to reduce disk space, and while I’d submit revisions to compensate for each wave of those, optimization continued for months after my involvement in the project concluded. What was eventually published didn’t sound bad, necessarily, but it didn’t sound a whole lot like what I’d written.

Here’s what the public heard:

Level 2: Quixotic Box Paradox

Level 4: Mishmash Mesh

Level 7: Juggle Jumble

Unfortunately, I don’t have the “good” versions anymore. They’re on an unlabeled disk somewhere; I didn’t think I’d need to keep track of them.

I do have this, though…

I dug up my old files for one of these a few years ago, and spit out a copy with more up-to-date technology (and way too much reverb):

Mishmash Mesh - Remix

(Permission to share these was graciously given by the publisher, whom I genuinely feel are good people.)

Anyway, this experience has had two profound effects on my career:

  1. I abandoned it. Completely. Walked away, never looked back.
  2. As a web developer now, I frequently have to weigh the creative vision of the designers I work with against a sea of technical considerations, and in these conflicts, I will always side with the designer.

    Fiercely.

    Irrationally.

    I’ve been on the other side of that, and I know how it feels.

*shrug*