Fuck special sound cards. Spend $200 or so on a Line 6 Pod 2.0 and you've got the ability to record directly, not to mention a shiny new front end for your amp of choice.
Shit, you know what, I just watched a video of a guy showing how to use one of those and it looks really fucking sweet. I think I'm sold on the suggestion already. Thanks for that, DR.
Geo, thanks for the suggestions, we took all of that into perspective when we built the machine a few hours ago. Should be receiving the machine next next week. I couldn't talk the wife into a dual monitor set up though. :(
As for gear, I'm going to be sticking with Gibson. ...Well, you know, upgrading to an /actual/ Gibson, I guess. Probably go with a Gothic one, cause I heart the black pickguard on black body. As for amp, I'm going all out. I'm sinking the cash into a Marshall stack. Full stack.
Should be a fairly expensive journey over the next month or so, but I gotta start taking this shit seriously. :P