So, an automatic update broke something with my Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installation. Grub2 drops to a grub_rescue> prompt with a complaint about grub_putchar not found. I've learned that my install is on a LVM logical partition making fixing this a real p.i.a.
Luckily I found a program that was able to get me going again (rather than a 2 week old backup)....its called super grub2 disk. Most awesome is that it has support for LVM's as per their wiki. I just created a boot disk and launched it. Selected the enable support for LVM option and then booted up fine from Detect any GRUB2 configuration file (grub.cfg) option
Once I was booted up I fixed the problem permanently by accident. I had a shell open and went to do a sudo apt-get purge and install after php in apache stopped working. It looks like grub2 hadn't finished installing and it brought up a screen of where it should installed. I ticked both options and let it finish. Got apache working after did:
sudo apt-get purge libapache2-mod-php5
sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5
and restarted apache