So after my last round of attempts, I uninstalled the nvidia-319 driver. I've now installed the newest nvidiadriver, 331.20. This worked. The installation went okay and it built the module without error. Previously I may have had a kernel related issue, since I have 3.11 installed. I needed the upgrade to run my wifi card. The package I installed previously should have had the patches for that, but I guess that wasn't good enough.
In any case, the video card now works. If I run optirun glxspheres or glxgears, I am clearly getting the accelerated graphics. But I can only get Cinnamon fallback mode. Cinnamon crashes immediately after login.
If I try to use nvidia-xconfig, it builds a xorg.conf file that makes my video go to 640x480. I don't want to try that again.
If I run glxgears without optirun, I get this error:
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Xlib: extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
ERROR (603): Could not obtain RGB visual with requested properties
This suggests there's a .conf file somewhere I need to edit, I just can't figure out which one.