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.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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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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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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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Jack ready for one final dash: Teen to bow out after national title

Jack Lee, 16, of Laang is off to Mildura to contest the weekend’s Australian Junior Sedan Championship. 090113AM08 .Picture: ANGELA MILNE “I’m getting older and I’m a bit sick of the juniors because I’ve been doing it for six years.”Jack LeeA FEW flashbacks are all that spring to Jack Lee’s mind when he thinks about the first time he competed in the Australian Junior Sedan Championship.It was easy to understand why after the 16-year-old explained his first try at the title.”I went there when I was 10 in my first-ever year of racing,” he said. “I can’t remember a lot but it was at Simpson Speedway and I went there with (cousin) Simon Craven.”Jack finished with a fourth in the B-main – not bad for a 10-year-old.Fast forward six years to today where the Warrnambool youngster will make the trek to Mildura to contest the 2009 title in his Datsun Sunny. It will be his second and final Australian Junior Sedan title race.”I thought that I did it in my first year so I might as well do it in my last year,” he said.”I’m getting older and I’m a bit sick of the juniors because I’ve been doing it for six years.”Jack will be pitted against numerous competitors he met over those six years on the weekend.He nominated Adelaide’s Adrian Cottrell, who holds the Victorian, South Australian and Northern Territory titles, as the driver to beat.He will also keep an eye on Skipton’s Jimmy Gardiner and Warrnambool’s Peter Kinnear.”(To beat them) I just need to keep my head straight,” he said. “There’s something like 100 cars so I have to finish top three in all my heats to qualify.”A record-breaking 95 drivers from every state and territory will aim to be crowned national champion. About 15 south-west youngsters will head to Mildura.After the championships, Jack plans to make the transition to formula 500s.”My Dad used to race them and so did Simon,” he said. “I’ve got the car Jamie Veal raced at Laang but I haven’t driven it yet. I probably will next month.”The 24 heats of the championship will be contested on Friday evening.The final round of heats will be held on Saturday evening, before the C, B and A mains.
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Lessons on Olympic level

Athens Olympics table tennis coach Alois Rosario holds South West Sports Academy students spellbound at yesterday’s coaching clinic. 090113GW02 Picture: GLEN WATSONATHENS Olympic table tennis team coach Alois Rosario is helping talented young Warrnambool and Hamilton players take their skills to competitions in Melbourne.Rosario has been working with nine students from the South West Sports Academy since July last year.The students will compete in five tournaments in Melbourne over the next 12 months and Rosario hopes some will be in the running for state selection.”I’ve seen huge improvements in the kids since July,” Rosario said.”To be able to source players from regional areas is really important. Until now table tennis had been missing out on the talent in regional areas of Victoria”Warrnambool Table Tennis Club president Mark Taylor said an academy-run coaching program for adults was crucial to sustaining table tennis in the region.”Currently there are only three coaches in the region,” Taylor said. “We hope this program will lift that number to 13.”For Warrnambool player Emma Manderson, Rosario’s visit meant the chance to do a lot of hard training and fix technical problems in her serving and hitting.Emma, who has been playing table tennis for two years, said the program would give her the opportunity to advance to higher levels of competition.”I’d like to try for the state junior team in the next few years,” the 14-year-old said. Taylor said the program provided regional players like Emma with a pathway to competing in the city. “Table tennis is often viewed as a hobby, rather than a sport. We want to show regional kids it is possible to reach the highest level possible in the sport.”
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South-west feels squeeze as job ads fall

“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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Mortlake mourns its ‘unofficial mayor’

Harry Stanbury 070425AM18 2HARRY STANBURY 1923 – 2009MORTLAKE has lost one of its leading community and sports leaders.Former president of the town’s football club, cricket club and racecourse committee, Harry Stanbury died last week aged 85 after a short illness.Born the son of Mortlake farmer Edgar Stanbury and his wife in February 1923, Mr Stanbury was considered the “unofficial mayor” of Mortlake through his work with the town’s sporting clubs as well as local branches of Legacy and the RSL.Like many of his generation, Mr Stanbury enlisted in the armed forces during World War II, serving in New Guinea for two years.Mr Stanbury told The Standard in 2007 that the opportunity of adventure and the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, a WWI veteran, inspired him to serve his country “We were all frightened though we probably didn’t admit that. But we had to stay together. If one was in trouble then we were all in trouble,” he said at the time,” Mr Stanbury said at the time.Former Mortlake Football Club player Jim Bell said Mr Stanbury was a guiding force behind the club’s golden era of the 1960s.”Harry was president during the time I played and his dedication to Mortlake Football Club was legendary,” he said. “He was on every bus trip that we took to away games and he never missed an opportunity to get the whole team singing. “He was a real character.” Former Mortlake Racing Club president Geoff McDonald said Mr Stanbury’s dedication to voluntary work around the town never wavered.”He wasn’t a keen racing man, but his house was in close proximity to the racecourse and he never missed an opportunity to help out in some way,” he said.”Anyone that has lived in the area over the past 50 years would agree – if there was anyone who would take the title as the unofficial mayor of Mortlake, it would be Harry Stanbury.”Mr Stanbury is survived by his wife Audrey, daughter Louise and three grandsons. His funeral will be held today in Merimbula.
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Cooling dip helps beat the heat

Farmer Michael Whitehead cools off in a water trough at Laang. 090113AM13 Pictures: ANGELA MILNE, GLEN WATSON Reuden Smith, 10, of Garvoc floats at the Panmure swimming hole. 090113AM18 Beachgoers at Warrnambool’s Lady Bay beach yesterday. 090113GW25 Harvey Browne, 15, of Panmure dives into the swimming hole. 090113AM20 Michael Delaney, of Nirranda, applies sunscreen at Lady Bay. 090113GW44
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Farmer Michael Whitehead cools off in a water trough at Laang. 090113AM13 Pictures: ANGELA MILNE, GLEN WATSON Reuden Smith, 10, of Garvoc floats at the Panmure swimming hole. 090113AM18 Beachgoers at Warrnambool’s Lady Bay beach yesterday. 090113GW25 Harvey Browne, 15, of Panmure dives into the swimming hole. 090113AM20 Michael Delaney, of Nirranda, applies sunscreen at Lady Bay. 090113GW44

AT the beach, the pool or in the shade, yesterday was all about keeping cool at any cost as the south-west sizzled through its hottest day in more than 12 months.Warrnambool residents knew they were in for their first real taste of summer, but when the mercury hit 30 degrees by 10.30am there was little doubt it was going to be a scorcher.Hundreds flocked to Lady Bay beach keen to soak up some sun and hit the water while those not lucky enough to have the day off did whatever they could to stay cool.According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the temperature soared to 38 degrees by 4pm, but the Matko Hire digital temperature display on Raglan Parade begged to differ, showing a reading of 40 degrees by 1pm.Port Fairy was officially among the hottest towns in the state yesterday according to the Bureau of Meteorology, reaching 39.3 degrees by 3.30pm.Mildura, Hopetoun, Ouyen and Nhill also reached temperatures above 39 degrees.The high temperatures prompted warnings from doctors and the Cancer Council Australia to take extra precautions in the sun and heat.Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Doug Travis warned people to modify their routines to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration during hot summer days.”Listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, drink more water and if you feel tired or dizzy, rest. Don’t exercise too strenuously, particularly if your fitness levels are low,” Dr Travis said.SunSmart Program Manager Sue Heward said ultraviolet (UV) radiation was now reaching peak levels for the year and urged people to take precautions to avoid increasing their risk of skin cancer.”Skin cancer is the most preventable of all cancers,” Ms Heward said.”UV levels reach their peak between 10am and 3pm. However, it is likely UV levels will still be dangerously high outside of these times so people need to be aware sun protection is needed most of the day.”It was the hottest day in Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Mortlake since December 31, 2007, when New Year’s Eve revellers sweltered in temperatures of 40.8, 42.3 and 40.9 degrees respectively.But the record for the highest monthly temperature remains January 22, 2006, when Warrnambool and Mortlake recorded highs of 43 degrees and Port Fairy hit 42.9 degrees.Temperatures across the south-west today and the rest of the week are expected to be in the low 20s with showers forecast for Friday.Warrnambool police have called on south-west landholders not to use welders, grinders and other equipment that can omit sparks during today’s the total fire ban.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.