Hi all, thanks for the responses - I had a busy weekend and did not see the replies until just now. I have gotten a bit further in the process - but first to answer some questions...
This is Ubuntu 8.10 (sorry I was posting on the Ubuntu forum, too, and forgot to include that info here), and no, F1 did not help either. With the "out of the box" setup, once it gets past the "splash screen" with the progress bar, it seems to not respond to anything (though the little "Caps lock" light does go on and off when I press that). However, ctrl-alt-F1 (or any other), nor windowskey-alt-F1 does not give me console.
Now, that being said, I did some other digging and logged in as root in "recovery" mode and edited the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and set the Device Driver as "vesa" to at least get X going, though it is not entirely "satisfactory" as it leaves the screen in 1024x768 mode, and I can (in Vista) use the native resolution of 1366x768.
I did try a couple of other things (fglrx, envy, and ATI's closed-source drivers), but none of them really worked. At that point I had to put it all on hold for my other activities for the weekend - and I am now at work. Hopefully, I can get back to trying more later this evening. Thanks again for the responses!