I drove to the Apple Store and picked up my iLamp, the powerful Megumi-chan, this afternoon. I've been restoring and tweaking and maintaining ever since. She's up and running as if she were never gone. In fact, I'm soaking in it!
The verdict was in fact a dead hard disk, rather than the much less painful loose connection I tried to bargain out of reality. The consequence is that they replaced the dead drive (free! Gotta love my AppleCare contract), but there was no data to put on it. I am so glad I'm reasonably diligent about back-ups. After setting things up, I did a full restore, and lost only about a week's worth of data, none of which really hurts. True, I'm scrambling to grab some anime Kelly's been watching, but other than that, we're golden.
So for the next few days I'll be closeted with my uber-gadget, bonding and renewing ties. Sad, ain't it?