after some contemplation, i figured out what needed to be done.
i researched others' xorg.conf settings for my monitor (dell 1901fp) and tried adding that information to my xorg.conf. i also removed all traces of proprietary nvidia drivers/kernel modules etc. ('sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia*' on ubuntu) and am simply using the "nv" driver.
below is my current xorg.conf, and i am happily running in 1280x1024 without any blue line, etc. the refresh rated defaulted to 75 Hz and the screen was a bit wide. after adjusting to 60 Hz using the display preferences, all is well.
the only problem is i cannot run any 3D screensavers, but 2D screensavers work OK. i imagine it is a matter of a certain Option or module that needs to be specified in the xorg.conf. if anyone has any idea, please let us know. thanks!
Identifier "nVidia 6100"
Identifier "DELL 1901FP"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Monitor "DELL 1901FP"
Device "nVidia 6100"
Modes "1280x1024" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "720x400" "640x480"