okay... new development. I changed the /etc/fstab following this in the wiki http://www.linuxmint.com/wiki/index.php ... _a_problem
commenting out the UUID seems to have done something positive:
selecting the linux mint OS option got me to the log in screen. However after putting in username and password there is a permission problem with the $HOME/.dmrc file??? its telling me the $HOME directory must be owned by user and have 644 permissions...
this leads to something about GTK+ initialisation problems and thence no login and no session. Failsafe gnome session gives identical result. i am able to get to the terminal with the failsafe terminal session. here I changed the ownership of $HOME (/home/me) to 644 (sudo chown 644 /home/me) and exited and tried logging in again...to no avail. same thing happens again and im brought back to the login screen (which looks slick by the way you mint developpers
also, there is still the weird screen after powering on PC as described above with the need to press enter twice to reach grub menu.