Well, this evening was spent messing with MT. And messing, and messing, and messing… until I realized that my problem lay in some simple configuration settings. Once MT knew where to generate my files, my MT tags magically started working; and once I realized how to make templates work, and how to recompile the site to show my changes, everything started coming together.
This is still going to take a lot of work and tweaking—and reformatting of generic templates when the need arises. If you choose to preview your comment, you’ll see what I mean… 😉