Correction: My rewrite.log entries all include the same linked files ... I had thought that the linked files were not compared when the RewriteCond was included, but that was the result of my emptying the log file erratically. In fact, the requested file and its linked files are all three processed each time, regardless of the RewriteCond, so the second log example given above is consistent across all attempts.
And I want to add that I think the process shown above is incomplete ... I believe this first step will accomplish the goal of re-mapping the query-heavy URI to an EXTERNAL clean URI (visible in the browser), but I believe that I will need a second INTERNAL process to remap the alias from the db back to the actual content that is not included, here.
1: query => (visible to user) clean (but invalid)
2: clean => (hidden from user) valid
Without the second mapping, the alias won't mean anything to the server.
But I am less concerned with that, right now, and confident that I will be able to make that work. At this point, my primary concern is getting the query string parsed by the rewrite functions. When I get everything running, I'll post the whole shebang.