I spent an entire day trying to get Kenneth Reitz "skeleton" Wordpress theme to work and I got nowhere. Probably doesn't help that I don't know what I am doing. The "skeleton" theme though is "suppose to be" a starting point for creating a custom Wordpress theme, but it seems to be missing the sidebar.php file. Maybe you can get it to work, but not I.
Without pointing fingers, I do what all good designers do when faced with a programming problem, I move on and search the net for a more simple example to copy and paste or download. :) And I found it!
On OneExtraPixel.com, Keenan Payne created a simple tutorial on creating a Wordpress theme from scratch. To be honest, when I hastily followed the steps in the tutorial when watching an Irish movie, I didn't get it, but that's why there is a download link at the very end of the article with all the files setup already, ready for customization.
BONUS: For a simple drop down menu without having to deal with Wordpress plugins, go to A list Apart: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/horizdropdowns/