Ticket scalpers are scummy, sleazy, pants-pooping cretins. We know this because in our previous life as a TicketMaster outlet operator (and in the days before random, numbered priority wristbands), we witnessed these evildoers padding the ticket lines with people who either didn't have the slightest interest in seeing the act (late-'80s junior high school kids, getting up at 6 a.m. on a weekend for Neil Diamond ducats, then waiting for the on-sale time as Guns N' Roses blasts through their Walkmans? Hmmm . . .) or could never afford a ticket to begin with (homeless people and five-year-old children, walking up to the counter and pulling out wads of $100 bills to pay for the six seats they've asked for? Hmmm . . .). And now the Orange County Fair people know this, too, because scalpers (they like to call themselves "brokers," but that's too P.C. for our cranky tastes) have invaded their turf. That's mostly because the fair has upped the profile (notice we aren't saying "quality") of bands playing this year's fair: Huey Lewis, the B-52's, Styx, Heart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, that kinda thing. Name-brand bands big enough to sell out decent-sized rooms all by themselves, without the extra added attraction of swine stench wafting through the evening air. So when $10 reserved tickets for the nightly fair performances went on sale April 22, the scalpers scooped up many of the prime seats and have been re-selling them at shocking markups. How much? One website was asking $233 per ticket for the Styx show, though a quick call-around to some local "brokers" found slightly cheaper deals ranging from a low of $75 to a high of $220—so much for the fair's TV commercial touting it as "the best in affordable family fun." What's more, as of press time, nine of 17 shows had sold out, so if fans were looking to land reserved seats, they were destined to pay through their seat. Fair deputy general manager Steve Beazley says he has been made aware of the problem by some pissed-off patrons and will consider making adjustments in time for next year's fair. But here's what's even more jaw-dropping: out of 8,500 available seats for the concerts at the latimes.com theater, only 2,000 of those are reserved. The other 6,500 are first-come-first-dibs free, minus the fair's $7 admission. So the question we really need answered is: WHAT KIND OF IDJIT WOULD PAY $233 FOR A TICKET TO SEE FUCKING FUCK-AWFUL STYX WHEN THEY COULD SEE 'EM FOR FREE IF THEY'D JUST GET THEIR AUSTRALIAN-BATTERED-POTATO ASSES THERE EARLY ENOUGH?

Five albums that debuted on Billboard's July 13 album chart beneath Reel Big Fish's Cheer Up! (No. 115) but above Home Grown's Kings of Pop (No. 189): Sonic Youth, Murray Street (No. 126); Joe Satriani, Strange Beautiful Music (No. 140); Halford, Crucible (No. 144); Deadsy, Commencement (No. 174); and Elvis Presley, Elvis: Today, Tomorrow & Forever (No. 180). PLEASE KILL US!
We admit to being ego-driven enough to have bought the new CD from local bro-core band HB Surround Sound based on the intriguing title alone: Kill All the Critics. And just as we suspected, the title track is all about . . . us! We figured all our poo-spewing over the years would have inspired a few angry musical rants—we just didn't think it'd take this long for one to surface. But still, we're honored, not to mention impressed by the crafty irony afoot. Take the verse "In every paper and magazine/Your stupid opinions don't matter to me," when they obviously do matter, enough to pen and record a tune in response to the bad show review we gave them in June 2000. Oh, these sly kids! That they think so highly of their lyrical abilities—enough to reprint handwritten copies in the sleeve—proves to be their downfall, or at least proof of the decline in American public education because they're rife with spelling errors (that or somebody blew dyslexia all over the place): "etcetera" abbreviated as "ect.", "right" as "rite," "reggae" as "reggea," and so on (they didn't even attempt "derrire," simply scribbling it out and replacing it with "fucking ass" instead). Several tunes are about getting plowed, smoking weed and staying out late, which explains things a bit. The cleverest writing on the whole disc has to be our original review, which they've lovingly reproduced in the CD tray without asking our permission (the all-powerful LowBallAssChatter legal department will be in touch with them shortly). We'll paraphrase: "HB Surround Sound created an ocean of bile in our stomach, churning up whitecaps so large that our amoebas grabbed their longboards and went surfing." As for the music on "Kill All the Critics," it appears to be something of a bad metal opera—two minutes and 44 seconds of deedle-deedle-deedling oozes past before someone remembers to sing something, and then it climaxes with a spooky mass chant of "Critics! Critics! Critics!" lifted straight from Richard Wagner. Ummm, well, okay—it's pretty putrid—but our interest is admittedly conflicted, so we hit up fellow music scribe Chris Ziegler for an unbiased opinion. "This is the worst . . . music . . . ever," Chris painfully groaned. "But Chris—surely not as bad as the Flip'n Whitey's?" we shot back. "Yes. Much, much worse," said he. And there you go.

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