On PHPBuilder.com today there's a new article looking at how to get PHP and MySQL working together on your server and make the connection between the two in a simple script.
Until you properly understand what happens in the background--on the server--while your code is being processed, you will not have the tools to eliminate slow server responses. I am not, however, talking about the actual machine process that happens on the server. I am simply talking about what happens when you type echo, or print, or foreach. What are you telling PHP to do?
They start with a basic look at working with PHP then move on to creating a simple database interface class. With this in had, they show how to create a simple abstracted query and handle the results.