I think I should have stayed w/ 10.04.
The audio was cracking: known issue with a fix. After applying that, pidgin alert sounds were still crackling. I had to go into pidgin prefs and change the method from Automatic to ALSA.
The real bugger is that fluxbox keeps crashing. I have gnome running (session manager, session prefs, etc.), but am using fluxbox as a window manager. I'm sorry.. all the compiz stuff looks cool, but once you start stacking/grouping windows, it's really hard to get used to a window manager that won't do it. I had fluxbox working as the window manager with Lucid (10.04) without issue, but for some reason, flux crashes a _lot_ with 10.10. Pain. (it's thankfully easy to restart flux without having to log out/in.. but still).