You definitely would like to see if the monitor has a DVI connector, as well as an HDMI port in case you have a PS3/360. I think that DVI is the standard, don't see many cards running an HDMI output yet.
For processors, Intel's releasing their new Santa Rosa chip as we speak, so see if you can ask for that. It's a rather efficient dual-core chip, much farther ahead then AMD's processors. Anything 1.7 GHTz and above is fine for a non-hardcore gaming dual-core processor.
For a graphics card, you'll need at least a 128meg dedicated card if you're opting for Vista as an OS. SLI/Crossfire, while impressive, isn't needed unless you're wanted the latest and greatest in gaming. I like ATI personally over nVidia, but it's personal preference.
For RAM, 2 gigs is the sweet spot as of right now, and it'll make sure, if you get Vista, that programs run smoothly. DDR2 is a good choice, with 667mhz the minimum for speed.
For a monitor, I like to at least have 1080x720 resolution. I currently have 1440x900 on my laptop, and it works wonders. If you're wanting to use the monitor for watching movies and stuff, trying to find one that can at least run 720, or even 1920x1080 for optimum HD.
I dunno if you've selected a next-gen HD format for an optical drive, Jake. I'm not going to convert until Toshiba and Sony can kiss and make up, so that's really up to you. If you do get one, then the monitor issue should be a no-brainer: grab on that is 1080p.
Hope this helps a bit more.