Just to follow up . . .
I was up to 4 "bad" chips - out of ~50.
Using the same setup described in the 1st post, I did the same operation on another machine - same REL 22 installed.
I was able to bootload and program all 4 of the "bad" chips.
A mystery I'm not inclined to pursue, but just in case it happens to you or a loved one.
Trying a different machine made no difference for me, still cannot upload sketches to this one ATmega328P after burning the optiboot bootloader from Arduino 0022. The one machine was Win XP Pro, the other Win 7 Pro (64 bit).
However, if I use westfw's optiboot beta
, all is well (on either machine). Sure seems like optiboot from the 0022 distribution doesn't get along with some small percentage of chips. ATmegaBOOT_168_atmega328.hex from 0022 works fine as well.