After a few early morning sessions this week (not a night person!), I’ve managed to find the solution to my problem with upgrading to WordPress 1.5 for this rant fest. The comments seem to working properly again, meaning that any non-spam posts should appear immediately instead of going into the moderation queue.
In the process of fixing the problems I’ve also learned a lot about WP themes and other geeky kinds of stuff. The result is the new layout you see here, which should be easier to tweak in the future.