Hamilton and Casterton take out titles

Casterton celebrates winning the Warrnambool Colts Country division two title. 090109DW72 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE”That allowed Brandon to set up good fields.”The coach and captain agreed the standard of country week had dropped slightly.”There’s still three or four very classy players in each side but I think the competition fell away a little bit,” Forsyth said. “It wasn’t as strong as the last couple of years.”In other division one matches, South West’s week went from bad to worse as the reigning premier went down to runner-up Warrnambool Red.Jyles Lebler contributed 65 runs to Red’s total of 168.South West managed just 98.Horsham Blue thrashed Wimmera Mallee by 85 runs while Grassmere defeated Portland by 34 runs.Casterton was the mouse that roared in division two, edging out Warrnambool to claim a second title.Coach Terry Ough said it was a special achievement for the Casterton and District Cricket Association, which was made up of just six senior and two junior teams.”That’s why this week is just a wonderful week for them,” he said.”A lot of the boys that come up also play senior cricket.”Casterton beat Wimmera-Mallee yesterday to finish with four wins and one loss, the same record as Warrnambool. It finished on 44.35 points, with Warrnambool accumulating 41.66.The winning association was well led by captain Callum Currie, who added to its bonus points tally when he made 106 in just 13 overs during a second innings against South West on Tuesday.He also scored a brilliant 87 yesterday.
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Aggression drives leader: Kane to race hard for tri-city rounds

Darren Kane won’t be holding back at Premier.NATIONAL Super Sedan Series leader Darren Kane yesterday pledged an aggressive racing outlook for the tri-city rounds, which culminate at Premier Speedway tomorrow night.The 40-year-old Ipswich driver has a buffer of more than 100 points on his nearest rival Wayne Brims after four rounds but isn’t falling for the tactical mental trap of defending his advantage.”I’m just going to treat it like I did the first three rounds . . . try to win the round,” Kane said.”I just don’t want to be protective of the series lead because that’s when it goes belly up. My dad always taught me when you race a car you race as hard as you can. If you are protective all the time the aggressors will pass you.”Kane attributes his success to the quality of equipment produced by his Ipswich employer, Boettcher Race Parts.The Dominator bar chassis, powered by a 362ci Ford Windsor engine, carried him to third in the opening round at Brisbane International Speedway, followed by runaway victories at Rockhampton in round two and Toowoomba in round three – as well as setting new track records.”It’s an unbelievable car,” Kane said.”It’s a new design that we built in-house. It’s a lot lighter than the one we had last year.”The car runs a Mazda RX8 body, in keeping with the extended business interests of team owner Ian Boettcher, who also runs a Mazda, Nissan and VW dealership in Ipswich.An engine vibration cut the team’s night short in round four at Dubbo but with leading series contenders Brims and Mick Nicola also failing to reach the feature it wasn’t a costly DNF for Kane.The series pacemaker and other contracted drivers face a demanding east coast loop with rounds at Hamilton last night, Mount Gambier tonight and Allansford tomorrow.With super sedans absent from Premier Speedway for several years, Kane said the track shaped as a neutral venue.”I’ve heard it’s a very good track – very fast and grippy,” he said.”We don’t go to a lot of tracks where we can pass a lot.”Kane, formerly of Tasmania, has a strong speedway pedigree across 22 seasons of racing.He is a three-time Tasmanian champion, 2004 Australian champion and the reigning Queensland champion.Gates open tomorrow at 4pm, with racing from 6pm.
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Jones skims surface: Top effort at states

Isaac Jones set a new personal benchmark at the Victorian titles with six medals.081030AM32 Picture: ANGELA MILNEWARRNAMBOOL Swimming Club surged back up the competitive standings at the Victorian Age Championships this week in Melbourne.Head coach Jayson Lamb yesterday praised the team of 12 swimmers who represented the club at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.He said it was the best performance in his four years as coach.Led by Isaac Jones, who won the 13 years age champion award with six medals, Warrnambool finished 21st out of 101 clubs on the points aggregate.”I’m really pleased with it,” Lamb said.”The kids performed really well with medals, national qualifying times and PBs.”Isaac set a new personal benchmark at the titles with silver medals in 200-metre butterfly, 100-metre backstroke and bronze medals in 200-metre backstroke, 100-metre butterfly and 100 and 200-metre freestyle.He also produced six national age qualifying times.Dylan Lee, of Terang, claimed his first state age medal by finishing third in the 13 years 100-metre backstroke.He set a personal best time in the process, as well as a national qualifying time.Others to reach finals were Jordan Logan (15 years 100m backstroke), Will Shepherd (14 years 100m & 200m butterfly), Matthew Logan (18 years 200m breaststroke, 200m backstroke) and Brittney Berger (13 years 200m backstroke). Jordan and Will also set national qualifying times.Kayla Spicer set a national qualifying time for 13 years 50-metre freestyle, swimming the first leg of a relay.The national age championships are held in April.
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Wesley CBC secures first win

Nestles captain-coach David Wright (above) shows good technique during his impressive innings of 82 against Allansford at the Reid Oval on Saturday. Nestles scored a 50-run win to move into third spot on the ladder. Allansford bowler Brad Sheen (right) spins a delivery down the pitch. 090117SB07, 08 Pictures: STEVEN BROADLEY Nestles captain-coach David Wright (above) shows good technique during his impressive innings of 82 against Allansford at the Reid Oval on Saturday. Nestles scored a 50-run win to move into third spot on the ladder. Allansford bowler Brad Sheen (right) spins a delivery down the pitch. 090117SB07, 08 Pictures: STEVEN BROADLEY
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Nestles captain-coach David Wright (above) shows good technique during his impressive innings of 82 against Allansford at the Reid Oval on Saturday. Nestles scored a 50-run win to move into third spot on the ladder. Allansford bowler Brad Sheen (right) spins a delivery down the pitch. 090117SB07, 08 Pictures: STEVEN BROADLEY

THREE of the top four sides were beaten and the winless Wesley CBC finally broke its luck in a topsy-turvy round of Warrnambool and District Cricket Association.Nestles rocketed to third place with a 50-run win over ladder-leader Allansford while Russells Creek defended 4-230 against fellow finals contender Dennington, with the result earning Creek second spot.Portland Colts kept its dream of back-to-back titles alive with a nail-biting win against West Warrnambool.The reigning champion ended the Panthers’ three-game winning streak, surpassing their total of 150 in the last over.Nirranda Knights finds itself edging closer to being the competition’s cellar dweller after Wesley CBC gave it a 109-run thrashing.In arguably the biggest upset of the round, Merrivale sent Brierly crashing out of the four.Tigers captain-coach Justin Lynch approached the match as if his side had nothing to lose.”They’re fighting for a finals spot while we haven’t had much luck this year so I just said to go out there, have a go, take a few risks and see what happens,” he said.What happened was bad news for Brierly, which has dropped its last three matches.Lynch believed Merrivale was always in control of the game, especially when the Bulls only managed 174.”It was such a good batting wicket,” the skipper said. “It was an absolute belter.”It was probably the best wicket I’ve played on out of the whole association.”They (Brierly) got off to a good start and at one stage I thought we would be chasing 200 plus but we ended up restricting them.”After Brierly captain-coach Nathan Murphy (46) was sent back to the shed, the Bulls lost momentum.Their last three dismissals scraped together just 10 runs.Lynch attributed that to Simon Fleming and Jeremy Burgess, who finished the bowling for Merrivale.”The young kids that opened the bowling were good too,” he said. “Sam Gleeson and Steven Mirtschin have just come into division one in the last few weeks.”We’re playing a lot of kids to try and fast track them for the next few years.”They’re doing a great job.”Burgess grabbed 3-33 while Fleming took 2-48.Lynch was equally impressed with the Tigers’ batting.”We started off excellently,” he said, referring to opening batsman Richard McKellar’s 48.”He really set up the game for us.”Middleorder batsmen Simon Fleming (71) and Josh Stapleton (50) ensured McKellar’s efforts weren’t wasted.”We have plenty of batting depth but it just hasn’t clicked this season until now,” Lynch said. The Tigers batted out their overs to finish 4-208.Brierly’s Andrew Giblin stayed at the top of the association’s bowling table by taking 2-35.The best bowling figures of the round came from Nestles’ Brayden Harkness, who grabbed 4-30 to help The Factory get back on track at Reid Oval.It had a decisive win against ladder-leader Allansford, which fell 50 runs short of the home side’s total of 214.Captain-coach David Wright was the shining light with the bat for Nestles, smashing 82 while the visitor’s best was Scott Henry (51).Allansford’s Tim Abraham backed up last week’s five-wicket haul by taking 3-18.The previously second-placed Dennington was another top four side to go down courtesy of equal batting contributions from Russells Creek’s top order.The Creek’s five opening batsmen made more than 30, with Jayaweera Bandara leading the way with an unbeaten 49.Despite Dustin Drew’s (49) and Xavier Moloney’s (48) efforts, Creek’s total of 4-230 always seemed out of the Dog’s reach.Creek’s John Anderton, a 49-year-old who made his division one debut, was best with the ball for both sides. He took 3-32, with one of those dismissals in his first over.Portland Colts’ top-order also shared its runs around but it was the tailend which sealed the deal at Henty Park. It eclipsed West Warrnambool’s total of 7-150 in the 50th over.Panther Luke Gannon (3-28) was best with the ball for both sides.Nirranda Knight’s posted a dismal 75 in its chase for Wesley’s 184 at Walter Oval to hand the home side its first win of the season.Ben Dobson smashed 90 runs for the winners.

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Graphic account of change: Altered landscape through your lens

Aleisha Mahony, from Noorat, took this shot of a girl kneeling over a drying puddle for the Lessons from the Landscape project. Picture: JANE LEE Picture: BERNICE ROOK Picture: ANNE MIRTSCHIN Succulents. Picture: ROBIN B Dead fish at a dry Lake Colac. Picture: JOY McLEAN Lake Colac. Picture: JOY McLEAN Drying land has caused grave stones to fall. Picture: GLENDA HAMPSON Picture: DENISE RLONG, hot summer days spent swimming at Deep Lake are a childhood memory Noorat resident Ian McKenzie cherishes as he looks out over the now dry lake bed.Remembering Deep Lake, near Derrinallum, as a vibrant place for water-skiing, boating and other activities, Mr Mckenzie said the signs of climate change were starting to show as he looked at the lake today.Mr McKenzie photographed the lake as part of the Lessons from the Landscape project co-ordinated by the South West Climate Change Forum.He was among 72 Noorat and Hawkesdale residents who took part in the community art project using disposable cameras to capture images representing climate change.The photographs will be displayed as part of an exhibition later this month.The South West Climate Change Forum was established in 2007 to distribute locally-relevant climate change information and help primary producers adjust their businesses to respond to the issue.Forum manager Karen Wales said the project was the first of its type to focus on climate change.”I think it has raised awareness about climate change in the area by asking people to think about how it affects them in their own lives,” Ms Wales said.”We all hear about how climate change affects other places around the world but by taking the photographs people had to think about how climate change will affect their lifestyle or business.”The project was supported by the Glenelg and Corangamite Catchment Management Authorities and the South West Primary Care Partnership.Ms Wales said the photographs represented a range of very personal accounts to more general community issues.From dried sporting ovals, eroding sand dunes, crumbling cemeteries and dead fish in dried lake beds, Ms Wales said many of the photos represented the concern residents had for fading resources.Other photos, including succulent gardens and new environmental projects, focus on how climate change has forced many to alter their lifestyle, while some photographers showed the current dry spell as part of an environmental cycle.The Hawkesdale exhibit will open at the Hawkesdale Hall on Monday, January 26, as a part of the community Australia Day breakfast from 9am to 10.30am. The photographs from Noorat are set to be displayed in Terang on Friday, February 27, at the end of the Noorat to Terang Fun Run.Ms Wales said she hoped the exhibition would eventually tour the region and Melbourne to raise further awareness of climate change.
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It’s a dog-eat-penguin world

WHEN The Doctor and The Colonel aren’t getting ripped off by Paul Hogan, they’re doing their bit for Warrnambool.This week, The Doctor has just returned to their secret headquarters in the Fletcher Jones Silver Ball after spending the day at the Warrnambool Art Gallery to find The Colonel wearing a novelty penguin costume and playing guitar.”Doctor, you’re just in time,” The Colonel said.”Why are you dressed like a penguin and playing my guitar?””I’ve been working on my side-career as a children’s entertainer,” The Colonel replied. “The costume’s to try and help me get in character for this children’s song I’ve been writing about the penguins and the Maremmas.””You’re too late, Colonel,” The Doctor said. “Barry Peters has already released a song about the very same subject. It’s called They Call Me Maremma.””My title is much better,” The Colonel said. “My song’s called How Can I Swim Now I’ve Only Got One Flipper?.”The Doctor winced. “I don’t think I like where this is going….””You haven’t even heard the song yet.” The Colonel cleared his throat, tentatively struck a chord, cleared his throat again and began to sing.”There was trouble on the island and the penguins needed savin’,From the killer dogs and foxes that were eatin’ all their babies,They sent Maremmas over and they’re supposed to protect ’em,But every now and then they get a hankering for penguin.””Colonel!” The Doctor said. “You can’t say that! I thought it was supposed to be a kids’ song.””No, wait,” The Colonel replied, “you haven’t heard the next verse yet…”Maremmas look real cuddly, like they wouldn’t hurt a flea,And at first it seemed as though they were guarding safely,But the corpses of the penguins were still found around the place,And the Maremmas all had suspect stains like blood around the face.”The Doctor was shocked. “Whoa!” he exclaimed. “Aside from your rhyme and metre being terrible, and your singing being in the wrong key, there’s no way you can sing that kind of stuff to kids.””Wait, you haven’t heard the chorus…”Please don’t kill me Mr Maremma,With your teeth sharp and pointy like a piranha.””Colonel, that’s horrible,” The Doctor said.”No, it’s not. It’s educational.””It’s not educational at all. Firstly, the Maremmas didn’t eat the penguins, they accidentally killed a couple. And they’ve done a great job at reviving the penguin population. And secondly, it’s far too graphic for a kids song.””You can’t keep the kids in cotton wool,” The Colonel said. “You have to open their eyes to the harsh realities of modern life. It’s a dog-eat-penguin world out there, Doctor.”
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Fishy stories abound along coast

AT: I had a call from Friar Fisher this week about a few of his mates heading over to Nelson fishing.TA: Fishermen having a few beers and getting into bother sounds promising. What happened?AT: Apparently there was a group of mates known as the Nelson Nongs who went over. They took about five boats and the boys were all fishing down near the mouth of the Glenelg River in an area known as the Bull Ring. About 1am a vicious storm blew up. It was pouring rain and blowing a gale and Billy Johnson decided to seek a more sheltered spot. Unfortunately there was no moon and Billy headed off at a decent clip in the pitch black. One of his mates yelled out that Mr Johnson seemed to be heading for the mudflats but by that time Billy was already bogged. He rang for help but inadvertently rang a mate’s wife which caused a bit of drama. Anyway due to some mobility problems Billy couldn’t get out of his boat without assistance. He had to wait six hours until daylight. I’m told that at one stage he looked around with his torch and saw two kangaroos nearby and about 5000 ducks. That did not help his disposition any good as Billy’s an avid duck shooter. In true fisherman fashion Billy made the best of a very poor situation and kept on fishing until help arrived. TA: Our yarn about Bamstone’s Michael Steel amused a few people last week after he was about seven hours late to present a trophy at the greyhounds. But it doesn’t end there. I hear Steely’s been busy again this week.AT: Why do you continually want to burn people?TA: It’s not about burning people it’s about providing people with a chuckle. The barflies tell me that last Saturday’s column piece prompted a phone call from a frantic Emma Kavanagh early Saturday morning.AT: How does Emma fit in?TA: Well, Emma was marrying Tim Searle last Saturday. Michael Steel and his father-in-law Don Bartlett were using their Cadillacs as the bridal cars for the wedding. Apparently Emma had a panic attack that Steely and Don would not get her to the church on time. Steely assured the bride that he would have her at Peterborough by 4pm for the exchanging of wedding vows. I’m told just to make sure everything was all right, Steely turned up at 2.30pm. But like Danoz Direct – there’s more. The wedding reception was at Emma’s parents Mick and Carmel Kavanagh’s Peterborough property. After a long night of celebrating it was discovered on Sunday morning that the wedding cake was missing.AT: The wedding cake – stolen. I’m sure the Warrnambool detectives would be pleased to take on a big cake case. Matty Laxton and a couple of Warrnambool boys are very keen on cake.TA: The cake was made by one of Emma’s aunties and weighed in at just over 17lb. The tray and the knife were recovered but there’s no sign of the wedding cake. Questions are still being asked.AT: Anything else going on?TA: I caught up with Sam Stevens from Rodger Constructions during the week. We had a chat about the purchase of Port Fairy’s Victoria Hotel. The former South Warrnambool footballer said the company takes over on February 11. There will not be any major changes until after Easter. There will be a focus on family meals and I’m sure there will be a few major changes to the menu.AT: I’ve been interested to see the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery bus getting around town during the summer holidays transporting patrons. One drawback about the brewery being on the eastern outskirts of town is the distance from the holidaymakers at the beach and that looks to have been overcome. Mrs Manoel would be very happy to see Moose driving the bus and out from under her feet at home.TA: Talking about watering holes, it was great to see that Warrnambool’s Vic Hotel donated $5000 to Warrnambool’s SES to get some new equipment including the Jaws Of Life. The Vic’s Pixie Gleeson said a lot of the equipment at the SES was out of date. Gerry Billings and the SES boys are very keen to get some new gear. It also looks like it’s going to be a big night down at the Timboon Hotel tonight. I’m told a certain redheaded gentleman who has taken over the running of the establishment is one year closer to receiving Centrelink pensioner payments. He’s going to provide a few free drinks for the patrons to help celebrate his birthday. Anyone who wants a free drink just mention this column to Grandpa and I’m sure he will fill up your glass.AT: Sad to see Nut McMahon’s dog Nuts Fawn Suit not win the final at the dogs the other night. He was due for a change of luck.TA: I promise this is the last dig at Nut McMahon for a few weeks. Appears the former publican went to the supermarket last week and went to use his American Express card. He delved into his pocket and discovered he had lost his card. He rushed home and phoned up to cancel the card. A few hours later he got a call from the supermarket to say they had found his card. Now he has to wait two weeks to get a new card.AT: Talking of sad stories from the dogs, both Noel Mugavin and Dustin Drew told me to back Express Reward in the big maiden final the other night. I was too clever and decided not to have a bet. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the favourite’s litter brother getting up and paying $24.80 a win. Until next week, hooroo.
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Five great music films

IF you love movies and you love music, then there’s nothing better than movies about music. The world of rock ‘n’ roll is an ideal breeding ground for film. Where there’s rock, there’s often passion, drama and tension – all key ingredients in great cinema. Here are five excellent narrative films about rock and pop. The list doesn’t include any documentaries and concert films. We’ve saved them for another list at a later date.A Hard Day’s Night (1964)IN 1964, The Beatles were everwhere – on the radio, on TV, on your lunchbox and, with the release of A Hard Day’s Night, in cinemas. Richard Lester’s film captures the manic spirit of Beatlemania wonderfully, especially in the opening scenes where the band find themselves chased through the streets. It also captured the Fab Four as four likeable Liverpudlian’s perplexed by the mayhem around them. Heavy with humour, particular courtesy of Paul’s “grandfather” (Wilfrid Brambell), the movie not only summed up their hectic lifestyle, but it was also hugely influential on rock movies. And then there are the songs – the title track, Can’t Buy Me Love, I Wanna Be Your Man, All My Loving, She Loves You and many more. Here’s the first seven minutes of the film:
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Almost Famous (2000)CAMERON Crowe recalled his days as a 15-year-old writing for Rolling Stone magazine in this charming coming-of-age tale. Through the eyes of writer and rock fan William (Patrick Fugit), we get an outsider’s insight into the world of ’60s rock ‘n’ roll. He tags along on the tour bus of fictional band Stillwater (a mish-mash of Crowe’s time on the road with The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd). All the cliches are here – the groupies, the drugs, the creative differences – and they’re shown with humour and heart. But it’s William’s passion for the music and “Band-Aide” Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) that drives this quintessential snapshot of a long-gone era of rock.Here’s one of the sweetest moments in the film – a tribute to how music can lift you when you’re down, as the whole tour bus joins in on Elton John’s Tiny Dancer.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)THERE has never been a funnier movie about music than this mockumentary which skewered the pomposity, ridiculousness and inflated self-worth of musicians and their rock ‘n’ roll excess. Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest not only improvised much of the hilarious dialogue, but also wrote and performed the many humourous faux-metal tunes, including Big Bottom, Stonehenge, Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight and Sex Farm. Many of the moments were inspired by real happenings – including the band getting lost backstage and their stage props being the wrong size – but the movie is best known for its exploding drummers, the amps going to 11 and the age-old question of “how much more black could this album cover be?”. The answer is none. None more black.

“These Go To Eleven” – one of the film’s funniest scenes.

Get Ready To Be Boyzvoiced (2000)WHAT Spinal Tap did to hard rock, Boyzvoice did to boy bands. This hilarious Norwegian mockumentary has developed a cult following in Australia courtesy of annual screenings on SBS around Eurovision time. As the film-makers trail three-piece Boyzvoice on their rise to fame, they capture the band and their insane manager in a series of blunders and scandals, including bashing a Salvation Army member, getting busted lip-syncing and finding out the frontman’s 16-year-old girlfriend is actually 12. This hard-to-find film is a gem that’s worth digging up.

Boyzvoice perform 12-Year-Old Girl

High Fidelity (2000)THE beauty of this rock film is that it’s not about the musicians- it’s about the fans. It’s about those music obsessives, who live and breathe music and love making lists of their top five Stones albums or five favourite records for a Monday morning or top five rock movies…. Anyway, not only is this a great rock movie, it’s also one of the few romantic-comedies geared towards men, as record store owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) details his top five break-ups. Nick Hornby’s novel is treated with great reverence, the soundtrack rocks and Cusack is hilarious.

Did I mention it’s got Jack Black in it? Here’s one scene (warning: this contains a bad word in it!)

Control (2008)*The mythic Bob Dylan vignettes of I’m Not There (2008)*The downfall of punk in Sid & Nancy (1986)*Pink Floyd’s absurd The Wall (1982)*The Who’s equally absurd rock-opera Tommy (1974)*Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991)*Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line (2005)*The hiliarous music bio-pic send-up Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2008)*The summary of Manchester’s mad music contributions in 24 Hour Party People (2002)*Eminem playing Eminem in the excellent 8 Mile (2002).

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Role Models

Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott show great chemistry and timing in From left: Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott and Bobb’e J. Thompson star in
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DESPITE one texter disagreeing with me, Pineapple Express is the first funny film of the year… and here is the second.Role Models is surprisingly hilarious, taking a seemingly lame plot about troubled men being forced to look after troubled youths and turning it into a comedy gold mine.Full credit has to go to Paul Rudd, previously a likeable bit player in Judd Apatow comedies such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Knocked Up. As co-writer and leading man, Rudd shines, and in the oft-annoying Seann William Scott (who will forever be known as Stifler from American Pie), he has a thankfully not-annoying wingman.Rudd and Scott are Danny and Wheeler, who spend their days driving a monster truck to schools spruiking a high-caffeine energy drink that turns your urine green and telling kids to stay off drugs.Unfortunately, Danny is sick of his job and generally sick of his life, so when his lawyer girlfriend (Banks) dumps him, he goes on a rampage in the monster truck, unwittingly landing himself and Wheeler in court.Their punishment is 150 hours with the Sturdy Wings program, which means mentoring troubled youths. Danny lands role-playing nerd Augie (Mintz-Plasse, best known as Superbad’s McLovin), while Wheeler gets bad-ass potty-mouthed 10-year-old Ronnie (Thompson).It seems like the usual story of badly behaved men learning responsibility, like Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy or The Rock’s The Game Plan, except this is actually funny, fun, intelligent and entertaining.Rudd and Scott bounce of each other with great timing and chemistry, and the script (which Rudd co-wrote with director Wain) moves at a cracking pace with few mis-steps along the way.Youngster Thompson nearly steals the show with his cursing and repeated bitch-slapping of Scott, but it’s Mintz-Plasse’s involvement in a live-action sword-and-sorcery role-playing game that provides the meat of the film and its healthy message about doing what makes you happy.Once you throw in some hilarious one-liners, some clever references to rock band Kiss, and a strong supporting cast, you’ve got a good-time comedy that defies its middle-of-the-road plot to become something laugh-out-loud funny.

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HOUSE ARSON FEARS: Fire razes home, haystack burns

Police and firefighters survey the damage at a Koroit home which was destroyed by a suspicious fire in the early hours of yesterday morning. 090115DW31 Picture: DAMIAN WHITEFIRE caused more than $150,000 worth of damage yesterday when a Koroit home and a Naringal haystack went up in flames.A Jongebloed Court house was guttered by fire early yesterday morning with police treating the incident as suspicious.The Country Fire Authority (CFA) arrived at the brick veneer house at 4.40am to find the property well alight.There were no people in the house at the time of the fire.It took 30 minutes for brigades from Koroit, Warrnambool and Woodford to contain the fire and damage to the property was estimated at $150,000.CFA duty officer David Ferguson said investigations were continuing into the cause of the blaze.”The house was extensively damaged by the time the blaze was contained,” Mr Ferguson said.Warrnambool Criminal Investigation Unit and Victoria Police forensic investigators sifted through the ashes of the gutted building yesterday. CFA Koroit brigade captain David Lumsden said the fire was easily contained after the alarm was raised before dawn.”It took us about half an hour to get it under control but it was completely gutted by the time that happened,” Mr Lumsden said.Ron Brittain, a Jongebloed Court resident of 30 years, said the fire engulfed the house in minutes. “I don’t know what first woke me up but I saw the flames from the window facing the fire and it just kept going,” he said.”It was over pretty quickly and the CFA got it under control in less than half an hour but from what I could see, the place was gutted.”Meanwhile, about 120 hay bales, worth almost $8000, were destroyed at a Naringal property in a blaze thought to have been started by spontaneous combustion.It is the first haystack fire of the summer season and the CFA has warned farmers to monitor their bales for overheating.CFA crews from Allansford, Warrnambool, Naringal and Mepunga attended the fire which started about 2pm.CFA Hopkins Curdies Group officer Kelvin Boyle said the stacks would be left to burn down but crews would monitor the fire until it was deemed safe to ensure it did not spread to surrounding properties.Mr Boyle said spontaneous combustion occurred when dampness and compression of the stack created heat and eventually produced a fire.Meanwhile, a house in Grant Street, Portland sustained smoke damage after a fire started behind a rangehood in the kitchen about 6.20pm last night, Sergeant Wayne Marsh of Portland police said. Also, about 6.40pm yesterday in Koroit, a power pole ignited on Staughtons Lane. CFA Region Five operations officer Mick Harris said two trucks attended the fire which spread briefly to nearby grass.
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Wool workers lose their jobs: Factory closure a blow for 26 staff

TOUGH times in the wool industry have forced a Hamilton business to close its doors and 26 people to lose their jobs.Grampians Wool Industries will operate its Lodge Road factory for the final time next Friday after 47 years of business in the national wool capital.The wool scouring and carbonising plant was bought by wool exporter Fox and Lillie in 1996 and has hit troubled waters in recent years due to a global shortage of orders and a lack of wool supply.All employees would receive due entitlements, the plant’s owners said in a statement yesterday.Lowan MP Hugh Delahunty said the closure of one of Australia’s last wool scouring plants was a bad sign for the industry.”It’s another example of the State Government placing excessive financial constraints on business and seeing them forced to close their doors as a result,” he said.”Grampians Wool Industries was a local option for farmers in the region to sell their wool and keep the wool industry local.”If a woolen mill can’t operate in Hamilton, the nation’s wool capital, where can it operate?” Mr Delahunty wrote a letter to the Essential Services Commission chairman in February last year on behalf of Grampians Wool Industries imploring the commission to be more measured in its increased water charge.”Stamp duty, WorkCover premiums, water charges – they’re all skyrocketing on the State Government’s watch and it’s crushing business,” Mr Delahunty said.Southern Grampians Shire Mayor Marcus Rentsch said the closure was a blow to employees, the region’s wool industry and other Hamilton businesses.”It’s very disappointing to see any business close and our major concern is the welfare of the 26 employees and their families,” he said.”Many of the workers for Grampians Wool Industries are skilled in various trades – plumbers, boiler makers and so on – so I’m sure their services will be in demand.”Most wool these days is scoured and carbonised in China which can outpace us in labour costs.”The Hamilton plant closure comes after Western Australia’s last wool scouring plant shut its doors last week.Jandakot Wool Washing, south of Perth, closed after it struggled to compete with China’s wool scouring sector.
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This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Historic tourist site reopening is a real step ahead

South-west Aboriginal elder Lenny Clarke checks out the newly reopened Gibson Steps yesterday. 090115GW10Picture: GLEN WATSONIT is easy to see why the Gibson Steps are so popular.As soon as Parks Victoria opened the Great Ocean Road attraction yesterday, a flood of tourists came to marvel at the ancient steps carved into a cliff face east of the Twelve Apostles.The landmark has been closed for almost a year while Parks Victoria completed works totalling $200,000 to stabilise erosion.Regional manager Rod Newnham said reopening the steps, which attract 300,000 visitors a year, was a top priority but admitted the works had been long and expensive.”But the only other option was (permanent) closure,” Mr Newnham said. “Stabilising the clifftop has been a complex and difficult geotechnical challenge.”About 20 people, including Corangamite Shire Mayor Ruth Gstrein and Cr Steve Cumming, gathered for the reopening. South-west aboriginal elder Len Clarke said Parks Victoria worked well to ensure indigenous cultural heritage values were protected.”It is a spiritual place for us but that’s not to say it’s not a spiritual place for the surfers or other users who come down here to meditate and relax,” he said.”We want to work with all parts of the community and beyond, including overseas visitors, because we take pride in sharing this place with that audience.” The stabilisation works involved building a retaining wall at the top of the cliff face. It is hoped revegetation works, to begin in coming months, will block visibility of the sandstone-coloured wall.Port Campbell Boardriders president Richard Stone praised those who had contributed to the reopening.”We would like to thank Lenny (Clarke) especially because he worked very hard on behalf of his community and ours,” Mr Stone said. “It is a great spot and we are very pleased public access has been restored.”Peter Younis, Port Campbell’s State Emergency Service unit president, agreed. “It is the most practical and convenient access point for all the beaches between Port Campbell and Princetown and very important in rescue operations,” Mr Younis said yesterday.
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This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

JOBS GLOOM: Position vacant ads fall by 36 per cent

FINDING a job is becoming harder with vacant positions evaporating by more than a third across the south-west.There were 157 less job advertisements listed in The Standard last month compared with December 2007 and about 100 less than two years ago in 2006.December 2008 saw an average of 41 job advertisements listed in the My Career section of Saturday’s The Standard – 36 per cent less than the December 2007 average of 64.Experts predict the region’s unemployment levels will rise in the next year as the country heads towards a recession.Warrnambool was not alone with job advertisements in major metropolitan newspapers across the country and on the internet falling by 29.9 per cent in 12 months, according to the ANZ’s monthly survey.Deakin University finance lecturer Chris Ratcliffe said it did not surprise him that demand for new labour in the south-west had followed the dwindling national new jobs trend.”In the current economic environment, people are less inclined to spend and that hits small business very quickly,” he said.”Generally, the first indicator of slowing sales is that of natural redundancy; employers with shrinking profit margins will not replace people leaving their business.”The second step is employers cutting back on their existing workforce.”He predicted local unemployment levels would follow an upward national trend.Mr Ratcliffe said despite falling milk prices, the south-west was better positioned than most regions to ride out the current economic turbulence.”We are lucky in the Western District because of the rural sector, even with the (milk) price drop, it is quite buoyant,” he said.”We’re still getting very good tourist numbers coming to the region as well this summer.” “And it’s common knowledge now that more and more people are deciding to go on holiday at home,” Mr Ratcliffe said.ANZ economist Riki Polygenis said the number of internet and newspaper job advertisements nationwide had fallen sharply in December – the eighth consecutive month of decline. The annual growth rate for newspaper job advertising is 51.8 per cent, the weakest since December 1982.”This suggests we will see further significant deterioration in the labour market and this means a rise in unemployment,” Ms Polygenis said.ANZ head of economics Warren Hogan said the survey provided further evidence that demand for new labour across Australia was now at recession levels. “ANZ is forecasting the unemployment rate to rise to six per cent in 2009, up from the current rate of 4.4 per cent,” he said. “Newspaper job advertising has slumped since the intensification of the financial crisis in mid-September last year, having declined by more than 30 per cent over the course of the final three months of 2008.”Mr Hogan said despite a rise in unemployment, Australia remained in a relatively strong financial position compared to the periods of previous recessions.
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This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.