Re: can't load the module
Ooops. Found the problem. There was some stock kernel nvidia stuff in there. My bootloader wasn't picking up the kernel where I was sure it was purged. The way I found it for future reference (i.e. a good diagnostic step for this problem) is to just `dmesg | grep nv` immediately after boot. If you see something that's not the nvidia module, get rid of it.
Thanks for the help.