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Does this situation sound salvageable?

Yes. The two obvious solutions that come to my mind are:

  1. You can salvage it by getting a new boss.
  2. You can salvage it by getting over whatever it is that makes you place so much importance on receiving praise.

Solution #1 has the advantage of being quicker and easier, solution #2 has the advantage of being much better for you, long term.

Related, Futurama quote/mp3:

Hermes: "What do we do if we break somebody's window?"
Dwight: "Pay for it?"
Hermes: "O hohoho, heavens no. We apologize. With nice cheap words."

Is there anything I can do to fix this, or is this just not a good fit for me?

As above, you'd benefit from analyzing why you care about getting praise/positive reinforcement from your boss. That's something that's essentially valueless, yet it seems like you prefer it to something of actual value, like money or career advancement, or getting in good with the boss.

Come to think of it, I've got a brilliant way to solve this problem. For a mere $4.99 a minute, you can call me for all the praise and positive reinforcement you're not getting from your boss. Seriously, think about it. You want the nice, cheap words, and I want the money. Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

Are my expectations for at least SOME positive reinforcement completely off-base?

Yes. Your employer-employee relationship is one in which you give them your time and services, in exchange for their money. I'm certain that "positive reinforcement" was never offered as a part of that exchange. If it's that big a deal to you, there's always the option of negotiating for a guarantee of some positive reinforcement at your next position.