thank you both kind sirs, I will follow your sage advices, and see where that takes me. eventually I think I'm looking at a recompile because everything else has stayed exactly the same and I can use mysql to connect from commandline.. (unless it is the way i'm defining the VHost which shouldn't really effect php->mysql interactions. The only new variable here is the precompiled lsphp.
thnaks! I'll post back my progress, and definitely a howto with screen shots.. so other litespeed noobs don't have to go through this pain (of their own creation mostly)