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something incredibly amiss in unstable and dpkg

I run debian unstable i386 and yesterday ran apt-get
update/upgrade.  After which dpkg breaks and cannot
install anything that is downloaded.

==> I have not been able to run dpkg to install an
older, working version of dpkg, of course, because
dpkg is broken.

That means that, if you hit whatever bad version
of dpkg I hit (or ?? package that's snarling dpkg)
you are at least mildly hosed.  (i.e. cupsys is
also currently broken and I cannot install cupsys
from testing to get my printer working, or switch
over to another printing system, because those
packages have to be installed with dpkg, etc.)

Any clues re how to untangle this would be most
graciously appreciated.

Otherwise -- if you haven't upgraded w/ apt-get
in awhile and you run unstable I suggest _NOT_
until others more knowledgeable than I either point
out the errors of my way or give an "ALL CLEAR"


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