Okay, I'm not a noob here. I've scoured a bunch of posts and books and still can't seem to find a simple and elegant solution to my satisfaction.
All I want is to create a simple html file for a static home/splash page. I don't want it to look anything like WordPress. I simply want it to point to different links on the site. Simple, right?
I also really want the site to have intuitive URLs:
example.com <-- home page / splash page (the one I hand code with HTML)
example.com/blog <-- the blog page
example.com/about <-- self-explanatory
example.com/contact <-- self-explanatory
I know about the Reading settings:
and using Permalinks,
and also about using the WordPress address and Site Address.
Currently I have WordPress in its own sub-directory (under "/blog"), mainly for cosmetic reasons (perhaps my first mistake?), but each time I point the site address URL from "example.com/blog" to "example.com", the site goes offline.
Oh — this is a brand new install, so I can clean the DB tables, etc., with no problem if need be.