I'm banging my head off the wall trying to think... I THINK I grabbed the dmesg (from slackware) and started at the first error (from the boot parameters or init scripts) and fixed it. I changed kernel parameters and updated BIOS. The rest of the crap vanished and I was slightly amazed.
I was booting with pcie_aspm=force. That threw the ACPI interrupts big time. So then I added pci_no_crs or the like. ACPI was basically haywire with kernels 3.2x and above. So I updated the BIOS (2008-->2011), and dropped all the nutty kernel parameters, and things work smoother. How I'm doing with power consumption I don't know. The power supply goes off and the laptop starts running on battery any time the sun goes behind a cloud. Pulling the battery usually sorts it. It's a hardware issue, I think.
EDIT: I had the exact fault in the thread:
It's objecting to some ext3 partition I wanted available
Some init script was barfing over that. I think I just took it out and mounted it manually once I had logged in.