Thanks Lucy for the pointer. I see the quote above was by g1smd so that implies it must be tough if he struggles with it.
It's not time critical yet. I have until Monday before I'll have to renew my old plan, unless they give me a grace period. If worst gets even worst I can always extend the plan for only a month until I get this resolved.
Resorting to mod_rewrite will be the last on my list. Before I do that I would prefer to just run my php as an Apache module -- shut down the fastCGI that is probably the root cause as it's set up right now.
I guess I'll plug away at it and if I get it running I'll post-back what worked. I say that because I think someone out there that had the same problem had posted it in another forum then came back and said he got it working -- but didn't write up the solution :(
It has been one challenge after another for the last 3 days, non-stop. I keep knocking them off but this one is getting the best of me. Some command line input for Plesk has changed too since I used version 9 compared to 11 that the ones I have in my head have to be relearned :(