I would say that sounds like some classic symptoms of a HDD that is about to die. Good news is, you have a Mid-2010 system so it will still be under warranty. Take it to an AASP or Apple store to get tested, and when they find a bad HDD, or whatever else it may be, they can check it in for repair.
You could waste your time with phone support, but they're just going to tell you you need to take it somewhere to get repaired anyway, and then they're going to want to run a diagnostic to confirm because without physical access to a system, diagnosing a problem can be a little difficult. So, may as well just cut out the middleman and take it directly to a repair shop.
Restored my HD this AM from a TM backup and am experiencing a lot of problems which include (1) Safari and iPhoto crash upon launch, (2) Mail launches but crashes when I attempt to access an email, (3) I have several "offline images" in my Aperture Library and any attempt to access metadata results in a crash. Probably more that I haven't encountered.
iMac 2.93 GHz Intel Core Duo, 4GB, OS X 10.6.4