Following up on my PS3 woes...thanks for all the help and advice. Unfortunately, I don't think its a lens cleanliness issue. I wish it were, but it probably is not.
The reason I think this is because the disk does not make much of an audible spinning noise when its inserted. This leads me to believe that its probably a bad reader, something to do with the hardware itself, rather than a clean lens. I blew duster on it, no luck- I'm afraid to try the disc cleaner because I'm afraid if I do it will scratch the lens and void my warranty.
About that warranty- I've managed to get more info from my friend about where and when his brother bought it. My hope is they will either have a receipt or opt to print me one....that's the idea, at any rate. I hope they are more helpful than the useless bunch of human drones at the PS3 service line. Good God almighty! If you have any trouble shooting to do with the PS3 go to their Web site- and if you absolutely must call PS3 service, ask for a manager right of the gate. Their floor employees are rude, argumentative and have no useful wisdom to impart.
Ok, calling the game store at 11 a.m. Wish me luck.