So it seems my fiddling with settings in XMMS has come back to bite me in the ass. I switched some settings in the "Options -> Preferences ->Output Plugin section. The output was the ALSA 1.2.9 output plugin. Clicking on the "Configure" button you have some options you can choose from. In the "Mixer" section I turned off the "Use Software Volume Control" and tried to let the ALSA Mixer device control the volume. Bad idea. After doing that and then trying to adjust the volume the sound justs cuts out and it will not come back for any program. Killing tons of processes, killing X, etc. Nothing could bring the sound back. Only a reboot would do it. So world to the wise don't let the ALSA mixer control your volume.