The solution is to create links the way you want them to look, and then convert the link to an ID in .htaccess, and then grab the resulting variable in your code to display the page the way you want it.
I cheated to do mine. URL looks like http://www.mysite.com/20110311275/my-article.html the tail end of the date string contains the ID number of the article. In this case 275, the name of the html portion becomes the title for the page by using ucwords(). .htaccess outputs two variables id and title.