I have a final outcome to report:
Since nothing had successfully worked at this point, I went back to my start-up lists (I use 'what's running') because earlier when I just disabled several I thought unneccessary and noted I could reboot in Normal Mode--but not a single .exe program could be opened either from the shortcut or directly on the application (I could use some of the system tools through startup). I enabled a few and I started having the BSOD (see below) on reboot again.
So having a limited number of suspects, I started uninstalling those on the start-up list that I reenabled and then disabled again. Notable among them:
*Sony Picture Utility (which would not stay disabled)
*Belarc Advisor (an older version 7.2)
*Dell Support Center (I had attempted to update this at some time in the past)
The last one was my number one suspect of the bunch - it was also the largest and probably the most embedded of all of them.
On reboot in Normal Mode it has since worked like nothing had happened. I still get the dialog box stating that my ATI CCC driver is out-of-date (it isn't, but Dell's annoying problem of never giving updates for their products--except for their products like 'Dell Support Center' and the like--had me try some 3rd party drivers), but that was there long before the BSOD problem started (described below)--I have since installed the debugger in case of future need. I've also searched out as many updates as I can and also updated the .NET 3.5 that MSFT put on their Windows Update page. I have not reinstalled any of the above.
Had this not worked, I probably would have done the Symantec Ghost and start all over.
Thank you all for you helpful suggestions & link to garmanma's BSOD page. I wanted to report this accidental solution. I had not installed any new updates, but as noted by hamluis the likely cause is the hard shutdown.
P.S. Special Thanks to dc3 for his last suggestion
- Gee, I would not have figured out 'only the highlighted dates will work' since only the highlighted ones (bold
dates) on clicking will advance to the 'NEXT' dialogue page and on choosing 'NEXT' it proceeds to restoring files (or at least attempt to). When I tried System Restore in the very beginning of all this (the last time I saw the BSOD but just before the start-up Fatal Error)--NONE of the dates were highlighted at the time; for several dates to later be highlighted (see above) I'm still not sure why/how that happened, but I reported it anyway in describing the history. But the first suggestion was well worth investigating. And lastly, dc3, I do appreciate the welcome msg
--collectively these were new ideas in trying to get my laptop running again, and previous searches I've done on this site here have always been productive for approaches advised by the many moderators in my own attempts to solve before asking for help.