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[tlug] Help with Mint

Good evening
I am new here on the list and originally wanted to start out with a little self-introduction. However, I just ran into a little "emergency" and would very much appreciate any help I can get.

For reasons I do not understand has the Mint mailing list died on me too. I get:
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
    (reason: 550 Host unknown)

A while ago I installed Mint 17.1, 64-bit on a Dell Optiplex 745 (I intended to make this a "production machine" ...)
and was trying to figure out, how to make Wine work with Japanese software.
No success at all.
And maybe I did (touch?) something, although I don't know what.

The machine has been sitting here for a few days, during which I did not use it.
Today I tried to start it up and get:
"Cinnamon has crashed. It is currently running in fallback mode. Do you want to restart Cinnamon?"
Which does not do anything.

Instead of the usual wallpaper I got a black screen with the usual icons (Home, Computer etc.) that do work somehow. But the start menu is gone, richt clicking options are gone and I cannot log out or shut the computer down --- except by cutting the power.
Cutting the power and restarting the computer does not help at all.

I did try (which has helped before):
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
at the end of which I could briefly see: "locale en_US" is not supported.
I DID install the English version, though.

Is there any way of getting this thing back on line, or is this just another case where I have to reinstall everything from scratch? ( I had to do THAT a million times already, because I do not know all the fancy computer techniques ...)

* Something that would belong into my self-introduction: I am NOT a computer freak and do not understand highly technical computer language. I would therefore appreciate, if help offered is formulated in plain English.
Thank you.

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