So... I figured maybe that was because my scripts were now out of sync, give or take. So I began my next ordeal of grabbing source and compiling. Overall, the howto was _wonderful_. Just had a few kinks to work out (the first one that took the longest was my own stupidity... I kept trying to run the blender.exe that was dropped in the upper level of the install directory... which crashed every time. Installed a very nice (recommended from that tutorial) debugger, and still couldn't figure it out. Then, well, flashbulb moment--there's another blender.exe deeper in the directory structure, and that's the one I care about--which I _knew_ because that's the one I was told to "strip". Duh. Then ... what? Oh, I went through so many things trying to get that to work, wound up learning a little bit about my processor, and the like. ((figured maybe it was the compile flags that were broken; silly me!!!!))
Anyway, moving on--it runs, but the import script is missing the very files it was missing to start with. Go figure--they're in directories that were added after the scons script was built... or something like that. Did a quick fix, searched the bug reports, and noticed I missed a directory too! Fixing that made me notice my fix didn't work at all... but a little more tweaking and I was able to make a patch. Whee. Posted the patch to the bug report as the first step of having it committed ("get someone else to test your patch, then post the patch to the patch repository").
FWIW, my self-compiled optimized version runs so much faster! I'm wondering how much of that is that I've compiled very specifically for my architecture, and how much is the tutorial recommended cutting out some basic parts of blender (like the game ... mode ... thing) if you didn't need them. Not in the mood to test, but damn. Grabbed the firefox source and I'm thinking of compiling that to see if there's a speed increase there as well. :)