Sunday, September 20, 2009

Superstitious astrophysicist nomenclatures and lost seats

People who enjoy going to live concerts used to have a wide range of outlets to choose from in buying their tickets for the events. They could go to the venue's box office, visit a local music peddler, stop by the service desk of a local department store, even drive over to the offices of the radio station sponsoring the event. But that was a long time ago.

Now, there are two choices: Ticketmaster in connection with Live Nation, or Live Nation in connection with Ticketmaster.

Don't worry, we're not here to rant about being forced to choose between two versions of the same monopoly. And there's no use screaming about the "convenience charge" added to each ticket price, or the "processing fee" on top of that, yielding this basic equation:

$50 ticket + $18 convenience charge + $6.50 processing fee = yes, that's right, $74.50 for the $50 ticket.

Magic!

Outrageous magic? Forget it. Even Pearl Jam gave up the fight, after waging a long and valiant but ultimately self-defeating battle against this kind of economic voodoo.

(And didn't this kind of usury once qualify as... well, usury? Wasn't it a crime, right up there with loansharking, where thugs would loan people money at 31% interest — just like credit card companies do today? But we digress.)

No, the biggest problem with TicketnationLivemaster is the part where you log on as soon as the "box office" opens, click the band's name, go to another page, click more stuff, load a few more pages, and finally get to click "Buy Tickets" — at which point another page opens with a box that says:

Type the words appearing above.

You know, the stupid system many web sites have now so you can allegedly prove to their computer that you're not a computer trying to spam their computer. Not only does their computer challenge you to read and understand the words on the screen, but it also presents the words as an acid trip-inducing spiral graphic, so that if you were a computer trying to spam their computer, you wouldn't even recognize it as text in the first place.

Once in a while, those words are along the lines of "red duck." Easy to read, easy to type, and moving you only 60 rows back from the seats you could have had while you type the seven letters and other people around the country grab the good tickets.

But more often, you see something like this:

Introspective flatulent meditation device

By the time you type that last "e," you're at the top of the balcony. And if you're foolish enough to think that clicking the "Search for Better Seats" button will get you anything different, well, you're half right. The seats will be exactly the same, but before you get back to them, you'll have to type "Superstitious astrophysicist nomenclatures" first.

As the British band Status Quo once sang, "Is there a better way?"

But then again, their name was Status Quo.

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