Total newb Library/Matrix question

I'm experimenting with using the Max7219 to control an 8x8 matrix as a baby step toward a larger matrix project-- and already running into issues.

After wiring up the matrix (and checking it 3x), to the 7219 and the Arduino, all I'm getting is the red LEDs solidly lit.

I uploaded the hello_matrix and the sprite_animation examples and got zero results-- not even weird results. Just the solid red across all LEDs.

These examples include the libraries for Sprite and Matrix and I'm confused about what I need to do with these. Sorry, I'm such a tard, but it's not clear!

The Sprite and Matrix libraries appear in the pulldowns in the Arduino software in Sketch> Import Libraries... I see them in there, but when I import them, I just get a little bit of code:

#include <Sprite.h>
#include <Matrix.h>

But this code is already present in the examples-- so this doesn't seem to be what I need.

HELP!!!

Also, I tried using the 7219 example found here: Arduino Playground - Max7219

Same result-- all LEDs lit. I'm thinking I need to strip this first experiment down to the core and start with direct wiring?

I actually had a shift register hooked up at one point driving 8 individual LEDs as a baby-baby step and that worked great-- so I know I can do this. I'm just... frustrated.

It would be great if I could find the "complete jagoff's guide to controlling an 8x8 matrix" tutorial. Suggestions?