After some work, and accidently wiring the current flow backwards (damn did the 555 get hot!) I put together a nicely blinking circuit.
1 - ground (-, assuming you wire it to the black post, to be pedantic about it)
2 - wired to pin 6
3 - LED's + side (- side goes to ground)
4 - +
5 - ... (nothing)
6 - 42uf capacitor (wired to ground), 1kohm resistor (wired to 7)
7 - 1kohm resistor (wired to 8)
8 - wired to 7's resistor and ground
Using different resistor values affects the total cycle time and relative on/off duty cycle, and the capacitor just affects the duration. Check the 555 data sheet for the actual equations.
So what next? Pictures. Then planning out my first microcontroller projects.
The first project? I got three VIC-20's from a friend, two with complete keyboards, and there just happens to be a free design for a Commodore 64->USB adapter using an AVR and a rather hackish (but useful!) USB function driver. But to get there, I need to be able to program an AVR in the first place... cheaply, if I'm to do it this week.
(tl;dr I'm going to turn a VIC-20 into a USB keyboard!)