I then said:
"I could modify the existing themes I'm using to use the information on the "author" page that Wordpress generates (essentially just a list of articles from the author). I've already hacked both Wordpress and one theme to do this, but I hate hacking software because the next upgrade wipes out the hack."
the next upgrade wipes out the hack
Use a child theme to avoid that problem. And then just add as many templates as you want/need to handle every different page type imaginable. If you take a look at any of the modern themes being created today, you'll see the amazing flexibility there is now. Even the default Twenty Eleven theme shows some of that power. Another free one for you to pick apart is the Arras theme (arrastheme.com)
Once you start realizing the power of both child themes, and different page styles for different types of pages (portfolios, reviews, full page, sidebar here, sidebar there, etc.), you'll realize just how powerful it is - without ever messing with the core code.
WP has come a long, long way over the years. This ain't yo' momma's WordPress anymore.
The following are posts moved here to further this discussion.