So far, I can run framebuffer-based apps booted from the diag partition. Way more available resources than in the "gui framework" partition. Still have not figured out how to reset the "unsuccessful sequential reboots" counter to below the maximum allowed, so I can boot past the "repair needed" screen on the main partition.
The simple brute-force "nuclear option" would be to reformat the /var partition, but I am seeking a "kindler gentler" way. I can always use the "nuke mmcblk0p3" option later if necessary.