Ok, I was finally able to get up and running-- though at times I wanted to stomp it to pieces.
Thanks everybody, you guys helped me get untangled from this dangerous piece of playground equipment.
Turns out, I had to just go through the "initial configuration dialog", assign an IP and netmask to Vlan1 and then setup my laptop with a static ip (etc, etc).
It was then possible to get to the web interface and setup DHCP.
The finale was getting the ssh daemon to work on the switch. After much frustration and dead ends, I found this RICH AND TOTALLY INTUITIVE sequence of commands. Apparently, the "factory reset" blew this stuff away (I don't remember issuing these commands on other switches-- or maybe I did, but they're so damn forgettable):
aaa authentication login default local enable
line vty 0 15
login authentication default
Basically THAT says to allow the locally defined user/password to be used as ssh user/password. I think. F if I know.