So what happened is this. The car had poor compression in cylinder #6 last year. Numbers 1-5 had about 125-130 pounds, and #6 had about 80. This had been making it idle a little funny but really no big deal.
So after it started acting really off (see first post) I brought it to the shop near my house (thought it wasn't going to make it, kicking and backfiring with every acceleration) to check it out, specifically the vacuum advance and the timing. I don't know too much about cars but armed with a couple books and the technical service manual from this car thought it might be related to these things (I thought about the gas screen at the tank too like mentioned in the above post but after looking at the tank and all the rust thought better of trying to get the screen out!). The mechanics at the shop looked at it and told me after checking the compression that it was the valves, and it needed a valve job for $1000. Cylinder #6 is now down to 60 pounds, but the others are okay. So I thought WTF, this shouldn't just be the compression, the car was driving *way* worse than if it was just the compression in cylinder #6, like almost not even driveable. Apparantly they did not drive it around to see how bad it was, they just pulled it in, saw it idling funny, and popped the wires and plugs to check the compression, saw that it was bad, and said that this was the problem.
So I thought I better get it home and decide what to do, since these guys apparantly were not helping. So I go to pick it up, start it up, and lo and behold it drives and idles fine! Just like it was before it started acting up. So I have no idea what caused it to do that, but apparantly some part of taking the wires and plugs out, then cranking the engine with the plugs out, fixed the problem.
On a side note, the car seems a little underpowered (yeah yeah I know its a Rambler, of course it is underpowered) compared to what it was a couple weeks ago. Is it possible that a piece of a valve on cylinder #6 broke off and was preventing the valve from seating (which it doesn't do well anyway) causing it to act up, then by cranking the engine over with the plug out it blew that piece out? Or maybe the wires or plugs somehow malfunctioning then when re-connected it started firing properly again?
Bizarre. I have heard it is hard to kill a Rambler, but this is very strange. Anyway, I drove it around again last night and it is running fine, good as it ever did. Lesson learned: don't take it on a 3 hour trip on the interstate. Maybe the wrong lesson, but who cares? It seems to be fixed. Thanks for the thoughts. Peace.