Till, thanks for thought. Fixed it.
I had downloaded to the server and then moved the files (mv) to a sub-directory in the /web. That was the way that had it all whacked (not sure why).
When I did it the second time, I downloaded to a win7 client and FTP'd to the web sub-dir for the blog. Then it worked.
Regardless, your point that it worked got me to try again. Thanks. And I learned wayyyyy to much about open_basedir as I tried to resolve it the hard (stupid/wrong) way.