First, the two extract brews ended up aging nicely and are now quite drinkable. Argentina, in fact, was tasty, and hopefully Hoppy Diwali will come into its own soon.
Though they were tastier, the hop flavor never arose. I narrowed the problems to:
1) Too much time with the dry hops
2) Poor filtering at bottling time, leaving hop sediment to bitter the beer more
3) Too many IBUs (most likely), causing a harsh bitterness which obscured the hop flavors
4) Water profile
I dialed down the hops big time for a new brew called "Pining for Pliny". This is an all-Simcoe IPA with an IBU count of ~70, which was a substantial rollback. I made the recipe as light on grains as possible to showcase the Simcoe. (Wow, do yourself a favor and smell a bag of Simcoe some time. It's known for a piney/citrus flavor; hence the naming "Pining for Pliny".). Regarding the process: I paid special attention to water levels and managed to perfectly hit my water amount. I used BeerSmith to aid in the process and I don't think I'd brew again without it. Today I bottled it and wow, what a smell! The beer is clearer and much lighter than previous brews. Can't wait to try it.
I have been reading a lot about water profiles and it turns out that Orange County water does not cut it for highly hopped beers. The sulfates are way too low, and sulfates are critical to really pull the flavors out of hops. So, for the next brew I'm going to be adding gypsum salt to get it up to the right level (again, Beersmith will help me calculate this).
Next up: a break from the usual hop bombs. I'm going to try something summery; a light, Belgian ale, using Pilsner malts, Belgian yeast, a low ABV, and a low dose of Sterling hops. I'm calling it "Bruxelles Sprout" (were it a stout you know what I'd call it.) I have a crazy idea to siphon off a gallon of it into my little 1G carboy and add some wild yeast to give it a nice sourness.
Finally, I have decided that if "Pining for Pliny" comes out decent, I'm getting/building a keggerator. I hate bottling enough to abandon the hobby altogether.