I figured out my issue here of how to set a PAGE as the "front page" and then have a "blog page" that will display the blog (that is not the "archive.aspx" page).
So I opened up BE in Visual Studio and made a copy of "default.aspx" and renamed it "blog.aspx".
I opened the site.master in the themes/standard folder and modified the menu links so they read:
"Home | Blog | Contact | Subscribe | Filter by APML"
I did this by editing the code like this...
<li><a href="<%=Utils.AbsoluteWebRoot %>" rel="home"><%=Resources.labels.home %></a></li>
<li><a href="<%=Utils.AbsoluteWebRoot %>blog.aspx">Blog</a></li>
<li><a href="<%=Utils.AbsoluteWebRoot %>contact.aspx"><%=Resources.labels.contact %></a></li>
I then went to the Admin section of BE -> Settings and did this:
- Set "Posts per page" to 3
- Checked the box "Only show descriptions of posts" for the "Appearance" option.
- Set the "number of characters" to 300.
Now when I navigate using the menu the HOME link returns me to http://www.mydomain.com (which is the "front page"), and the BLOG link sends me to http://www.mydomain.com/blog.aspx which shows the last 3 posts (300 characters).
There may be another way to achieve this, but this was pretty easy. Without knowing the ins and outs of BE, it seems BE must only apply the "is front page" option when it realizes the page being served is the "default.aspx" in the root of the BE site. Just
copy it, change the name and you've got a perfectly working blog summary that would look exactly like the intended "home page" when the "is front page" option is NOT checked.
I hope I'm making sense and that others find this helpful.