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$result=mysql_query("....") or die(mysql_error().' at line '.__LINE__.' of '.__FILE__);
EXPLAIN EXTENDED ...the query I copied... \G
SHOW WARNINGS \G
LIKE '%$something'. In fact, the parenthesis around the other parts of the WHERE clause might also be unnecessary (although they make it easier to read) since AND has precedence over OR.
WHERE (item1 LIKE ('%$something%') OR
item2 = '$somethingelse' OR
item3 = '$anotherthing')