At some point in the history of my blog I had installed a plugin that activated a piece of wordpress code that duplicated all post meta-data custom fields into each post. This resulted in my database being crammed full of meta-data for each post that did not use that meta-data. While this did not affect the look of the post it certainly added some size to my database.
I had to manually delete all the duplicate meta-data from the wp_postmeta. Once I did that the add new post screen in wp-admin worked like a champ. The UI continues to show the custom fields during new post entry but it does not save it upon publish.
I hope this helps some one who is having the same probelm.