ok fixed problem. configuration issue.
found a button marked "debug" in the Dial up configurator and it told me that there was no password set. My isp doesnt need a password, so I had left that blank. putting in a bogus password got me dialing. Next problem, the pppd didnt seem to be starting in debug mode. There seemed to be no way around this untill I tried the RH ppp dialer just to see if it would work and it did - all the way through. posting from linux now
so now, as a curiosity more than anything else, why doesnt the debug version dial all the way through? As soon as I figure out were a note pad equivelent is I can post the modem log.