Okay, so while I was buying a new supply of charcoal from the local neighborhood megamart, I came across a shelf with some chimney starters for charcoal. At less than $9, I picked one up.
I am completely sold on the superiority of chimney starters over all other methods of starting charcoal.
25 minutes and two pieces of newspaper later, I had a super-hot, evenly burning pile of coals that I was able to spread out with no hot or cold spots anywhere. I love it.
Once this chimney starter disintegrates, I'm getting another one.