Thanks, I'll go try that in just a moment.
Also, I'll note that I don't have the pause if I do a soft reboot.... only after a full system halt does it take forever to boot.
I also disabled the splash for one boot process, which gave me a little bit more information (I think)
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ata2.00: atapi, max udma/33
ata2.00: qc timeout cmd 0xef
ata2.00: failed to set xfer mode (err_mask=0x4)
ata2.00: limiting speed to udma/33:pi03
ata2.: failed to recover some devices, retrying in 5 secs
ata2.00: qc timeout (cmd 0x3f)
ata2.00: failed to set xfermode (err_mask=0x4)
On another note... just watched the system finish booting, and I'm presented with a root prompt :-/
I'll try booting with the "noapic" option and see what happens.