Monthly Archives: September 2018

Marvel moves forward on female-led Black Widow film

Fans of Marvel’s Black Widow can rest easy.
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Following years of anticipation, the studio has finally progressed with plans for the female superhero, played by Scarlett Johansson, to star in her own standalone film.

According to a Variety report, Marvel has confirmed that screenwriter Jac Schaeffer is attached to the project, which is still in “very early development”.

Schaeffer, who also wrote the upcoming female-led remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels featuring Australian actress Rebel Wilson, is the only member of the Black Widow team that has been announced so far.

The announcement comes after numerous hints from key figures. “Where we go beyond [our next nine films] are ongoing discussions,” said Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige in 2016.

“I would say certainly the one, creatively and emotionally, that we are most committed to doing is Black Widow.”

The movie has no slated release date, but is set to follow 2019’s Captain Marvel as the second film in the Marvel cinematic universe to star a solo female lead.

Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel for the first time, while Black Widow will be Johansson’s seventh reprisal of the role after she first appeared in Iron Man 2 in 2010.

On social media, fans have begun drawing comparisons between Black Widow and last year’s highly successful Wonder Woman released by DC.

“It just goes to show you how much impact #WonderWoman is already having,” read one tweet. “That film proved that audiences will go see female-led superhero films.”

“Marvel is finally making a #BlackWidow movie that wouldn’t be happening without #WonderWoman,” another user wrote. So Marvel is FINALLY maybe going to make a standalone #BlackWidow film.

It just goes to show you how much impact #WonderWoman is already having. That film proved that audiences will go see female-led superhero films.

Slowly but surely, things are changing… pic.twitter南京夜网/JB7r8PuKHC??? Connor Behrens (@ConnorFilm) January 10, 2018#wonderwoman has changed things

Because of how popular WonderWoman was it has encouraged more female led movies Marvel is finally making a #BlackWidow movie that wouldn’t be happening without wonderwoman#WonderWoman broke through barriers, & is pushing the industry to change pic.twitter南京夜网/1iJM2roKhl??? Hannah (@shipperofstuff) January 11, 2018This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net. Continue reading

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What’s gone wrong at the Stars

The Melbourne Stars’ season is a salvage mission. Even five wins in a row mightn’t be enough to maintain the club’s perfect record of qualifying for the semi-finals, and having not come particularly close to winning one game, the prospect of five on the trot seems fanciful. So what’s gone wrong? Well plenty, both on a macro and micro level.
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First to the smaller picture. The two main patterns of their games have been early collapses, and an inability to get wickets.

The Stars’ batting in the powerplay has been a mess. In four of their five games their first four wickets have fallen for 80 runs or less. It doesn’t matter which form of the game a team is playing, you’re not going to win many games like that.

Ben Dunk topped the competition for runs last year when playing for the Adelaide Strikers. His move to the Stars was seen as a coup, but he’s been a flop. Save for 47 against the Melbourne Renegades, he hasn’t reached double figures. Fellow opener Luke Wright has fared little better, with just 71 runs from four knocks. Kevin Pietersen hasn’t set the world alight either. He has 85 runs in four innings, with a wild swing against the Strikers leading to what was about as ugly a dismissal as you’ll see in professional cricket.

Peter Handscomb didn’t expect to be playing in the BBL. In a parallel universe he was still batting in Australia’s middle order, having rescued his Test spot with a big score in Perth. But he lost his spot, and has been travelling between the Stars and Australian camps for a fortnight. For the Stars, he’s made scores of eight and one. The man who only a handful of months ago looked as entrenched as any Australian batsman other than Steve Smith and David Warner now can’t find a score in domestic cricket. By the looks and sounds of it, he doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.

Three batsmen have at least performed creditably or better: Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner, although Stoinis won’t feature again this season due to international commitments. Faulkner is yet to be dismissed and has repeatedly found himself coming in with the team on the back foot. While the runs haven’t flowed as fast as perhaps hoped, he’s at least making regular solid contributions.

Remarkably given the struggles of the batsmen, the Stars’ bowlers are arguably performing worse. Only in one game have they impressed as a collective, doing a good job of restricting the Perth Scorchers at the WACA, only for the top order to crumble. The biggest issue is a lack of potency. Who is the Stars’ gun bowler? They really don’t have one.

Stoinis is their leading wicket-taker with five, and the team has taken a paltry seven wickets in their past three games. Scott Boland came into the tournament with high hopes but was beaten up by Brendon McCullum early in the Stars’ opening game, and hasn’t recovered. He’s been dropped twice already and with an economy rate of 11.5 and average of 92 it’s hard to see him getting a quick recall. Adam Zampa has kept things relatively tight but without pace support hasn’t had a commanding showing.

Michael Beer was perhaps the Stars’ best player across their first two games, but dumped after Aaron Finch took the sword to him in the derby. By his own admission, captain John Hastings entered the season underdone and is only starting to fire. Faulkner has done reasonably well but is only bowling two overs a game on average. Jackson Coleman’s couple of games have been promising, but it’s too much to expect a player so inexperienced to lead the attack.

The bigger picture is one of contracts and plans. While there is a salary cap in the Big Bash League, the lack of a draft means AFL-style premiership windows should be able to open and close a bit more freely. Just look at Sydney Thunder, who went from second-bottom to champions, to bottom, in the space of three seasons. Indeed it’s why the Stars should be lauded for their consistency in reaching the semi-finals in all six completed seasons of the BBL, even though their results once they’ve got there have been immensely disappointing, with five defeats in the semis, and their narrow loss in the final against the Thunder two seasons.

The overriding sentiment, both internally and externally, is that they went a year too far with this group. Multi-year contracts had limited their flexibility, and the result of a failing senior core has been a very stale-looking group. The Stars’ plight is typified by the options available outside the XI. Veterans Beer, Rob Quiney and Ben Hilfenhaus were all on the outer this week, but perhaps with the exception of Beer it’s hard to see the Stars rushing back to guys in their mid 30s.

The decision to allow Cameron White to defect to the Renegades three years ago looks like a terrible blunder. White has been as dominant as ever, averaging 142.5 playing the anchor role for the Renegades, enough to earn him a highly improbable international recall.

So where to from here? Pietersen has already announced he will depart at season’s end, and there is an argument that once finals are an impossibility he shouldn’t be playing, but it’ll take a brave selection panel to make that call. Wright missed the Strikers game with a back complaint and while he could be recalled with Stoinis gone, there is next to no chance the Englishman – a serviceable player since the club’s foundation season – will be there next year. The group is likely to have a vastly different look next season, even though coach Stephen Fleming is understood to be contracted for 2018-19. Maxwell has already suggested the club should look to bowlers to fill its overseas player gaps, and given the success of Rashid Khan, Jofra Archer and Shadab Khan, that looks sensible.

The elephant in the room is the difficulty that comes with being in a two-team town. Only once have both the Renegades and the Stars made the finals in the same season, and it has been similarly rare for Sydney’s Sixers and Thunder to be playing well simultaneously. Renegades veteran Brad Hodge implied this point when he queried the Scorchers’ list management practices. The suggestion is that the Scorchers have an advantage by bundling state and BBL contracts. Cricket Australia has found no wrongdoing.

In any case the Stars could desperately do with some fresh young Victorian talent. Will Sutherland has signed for the Renegades, although the Stars do have talented batsman Will Pucovski on their books as a rookie, while Seb Gotch should now get a run of games, and Sam Harper is waiting in the wings. They have also called in young leg-spinner Daniel Fallins who wreaked havoc against England in a tour match in November. Along with Coleman and spinner Liam Bowe, it will be performances from these players that can allow the Stars to find some gold from the wreckage of this season.

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Game of dress-ups takes a venomous turn after spider bite

Seven-year-old Riley Schmidt from Hill Top was bitten by this funnel web on January 7.
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A quick-thinking mum and dad saved their son from the wrath of a deadly spider last week.

Seven-year-old Riley Schmidt was ready to dress up in his Harry Potter costumelast Sunday just before 6pm – but something deadly hiding inside the outfit stopped him.

As Riley tried to put his costume on, a funnelweb spider bit him on the finger.

“It hurt and it felt very sharp,” he said.

The brave little boy from Hill Top, in the NSW Southern Highlands, showed his mum and dad the bite with a hardly a tear, and Kayla and Stephen Schmidt’s protective instinct immediately kicked into gear.

Kayla wrapped Riley’s hand in a compression bandage and called an ambulance, while Stephen captured the spider in a container.

Kayla knew exactly how to wrap Riley’s hand thanks to a first aid training course she did through a sporting club.

“I did first aidtraining with the kid’s soccer club and we learnt exactly what to do in case of a spider or snake bite,” Kayla said.

“At the time we all thought ‘what are we going to need this for’ but it came in very handy,” she said.

The bite mark can be seen on Riley’s finger.

Stephen said the spider was “fired-up” when he caught it.

“It was jumping around in the container and you could hear it’s fangs hitting the plastic,” he said.

When Riley arrived at Bowral and District Hospital, nurses and doctors were very impressed at the family’s calm nature and how well first aid measures had been applied.

Bowral and District Hospital’s Dr Matthew Bragg said Kayla’s tourniquet technique was fantastic.

“[Kayla]did a really great job putting on the pressure immobilising bandaging and calmed him down,” he said.

“He had no sign of any invenoming when he arrived and I think that was because she had done such a great job of applying first aid.”

Riley (in the maroon shirt) pictured with mum Kayla, dad Stephen, brothers Brayton and Hudson and sister Henley.

After doctors saw the spider Stephen had brought in,they administered Riley with anti-venom before he was transferred to Randwick Children’s Hospital.

“My hand got really fat,” Riley said.

“It started with his fingers and then the rest of his hand started to swell as well,” Kayla said.

“But the anti-venom worked really quickly and we started to see him improve 10 or so minutes after he had it.”

Stephen said the spider was taken to Taronga Zoo after the incident.

“Part of the reason we brought the spider in was because we had heard their was a shortage of anti-venom,” he said.

Funnel web spiders are milked for the venom at a reptile park in Gosford, the venom is then transported to Melbourne so the anti-venom can be created.

The spiders are more likely to attack in summer, as they like hot, moist weather.

Bowral and District Hospital’s Dr Matthew Bragg with a vial of anti-venom.

Mr Bragg said the best thing to do when firstbitten was to remain calm.

“If you’ve been bitten by a big black spider pressure immobilisation bandaging is key,”he said.

“Don’t run around, keep the area still and call an ambulance- that’s the best course of action and that was proven in Riley’s case.”

While Riley won’t be putting his Harry Potter costume on again in future, he’s now decided he’d like to be a very particular superhero – Spiderman.

Funnel web spider bite symptoms:Copious secretion of salivaMuscular twitching and breathing difficultySmall hairs stand on endNumbness around mouthCopious tearsDisorientationFast pulseIncreased blood pressureConfusion leading to unconsciousnessIf you see someone who has beenbitten by a funnel web, NSW Ambulance advises:Keep them from moving aroundKeep the bitten limb downBandage the limb from the area of the bite to the hand/foot and then back up to the bodyImmobilise the limb by splinting, if possibleTell the person to keep calmDo not move them at allWait there for the paramedics or ambulanceSouthern Highlands News

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short story competition 2018: Best in the State

WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short storycompetition. The winner will be announced on January 27. Picture: Simone De PeakThe newspaper cutting is yellowed and brittle with age. We’d just won “Best Sausage in the State”when I stuck it up inside the shop window.
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About 10 years ago that would’ve been.

When I take it down, some stays put beneath the tape. Although the picture’s faded I can still make us out: me, Bobbie and Frank, my apprentice. Frank’s standing on my left with Bobbie, the pup at his feet.

There’s a brown mark across Frank’s chest. Blood, maybe. And, woofta, there’s that punch in my solar plexus again.

The bell on the screen door jingles. I fold the cutting and shove it under the counter.

“Bobbie’s looking poorly,”says old China as he shuffles to the counter.

I nod.

“Picked up after the vet operated,”I say.“But, no, not himself today.”

“Did yer ever find out exactly what happened?”

“Your guess is good as mine, mate,”I reply. “Hit by some car or truck, I reckon.”

“Fancy them leaving the poor beggar for dead. And with that gaping hole in his belly and all.”

I wrap China’s mince and slap the parcel on the counter-top. After he’s gone, I unsheathe a knife, give it a quick sharpen and slice up some sirloin on the butcher’s block.

I recall the first day I saw Bobbie. During the war it was. Ribs stuck out like elbows. Coat dirty grey instead of white, totally matted. His head seemed too heavy for him; bobbed up and down as he limped along the footpath toward the shop. Think Frank might’ve christened him Bobbie. Anyways, the name stuck.

When Frank gave him a sausage I growled.

“Don’t go feedin’ that mutt the profits,”I said.

Frank shrugged. And that mongrel pup wolfed down that sausage. From then on the little beggar would be waiting outside every morning, bang on eight. Out would go Frank and feed him a sausage. I’d scowl and grumble but it fell on deaf ears; Frank was a right sucker for Bobbie’s pleading brown eyes.

“I’ll dock the cost from your wages,”I said.

And what was Frank’s response? Chatted away to Bobbie. Patted him. Scratched his belly. Flamin’ soppy as the dog.

“Hello,”chimes a voice across the counter.

“Oh, didn’t hear you come in, Mrs Steel,”I say, wiping my hands on my apron. “Miles away, I was.”

“Wonder you didn’t hear the bell,” she says, nose wrinkling at the smell of meat and sawdust. “How’s Bobbie?”

“Bit off today,”I explain with a grimace. “Anyways, what can I get for you?”

“Give me half-a-pound of those prize-winning sausages of yours.”

I think of the clipping under the counter and blood pumps into my face.

Mrs Steel stows the sausages in her string bag.

“Hope Bobbie picks up,”she says as she leaves.

The screen door slaps behind her. I take out the cutting again. It splits along the fold. Starts to fall apart. I spread it out on the counter and think back to when it was printed.

As proprietor of the butcher’s shop I got all the accolades for that winning sausage. I puffed up like bread dough; you can see from the photograph how full of myself I got. But it was Frank.

Frank came up with the recipe for that sausage. I told him to keep his trap shut. He looked at me like … like he somehow pitied me.

Worse still, when he got his call up for the army, I actually breathed a sigh of relief.

Even went along to the station and waved him off when he shipped out. Imagine that.

Course, Bobbie pined his heart out. Didn’t eat for days. When he started again the entire town spoiled him rotten with tidbits. But weirdest thing, you know: after Frank left for the war, Bobbie refused to take a single sausage from me. Not a one. Nine years on. Still hasn’t.

Instead of ditching the cutting in the bin I take it out back and bury it among some paraphernalia in a drawer. Then I fetch a sausage, just on the off chance and go outside to check on Bobbie. He’s lying on his old khaki blanket. He looks up with … I dunno … sad eyes.

I kneel down and break the end of the sausage open. Squeeze out a bit of the meat to make it easier for the old fella. And lo and behold, Bobbie sniffs at it. Then instead of laying his head down on his paws like he’s done all those years since Frank left, he cocks his head on one side and licks the sausage meat.

“Good boy,”I say. “Have a bite, mate. Have a bite.”

And blow me down. He gobbles down the whole darn thing. I pat his head. Scratch behind his ear.

“That’s the way, boy,” I say. “Couple more of Frank’s sausages and you’ll be up and about again.”

He looks up at me. Bit fanciful maybe, but his eyes are sort of smiling.

Back inside the shop, my chest feels twice its usual size; has to contain my heart somehow. When young Miss Lawson comes in for her lamb chops, I’m whistling … It’s a Long Way to Tipperary. Miss Lawson purses her lips and does a little shimmy.

“That for the good-looking soldier out the front?”she asks.

“Huh? What soldier?”

“The one outside with Bobbie.”

I fling open the flap in the counter. It bangs against the wall. Two strides and I’ve crossed the shop floor. I practically yank the screen door off its hinges and leap down both steps at once.

I stare up the street toward one end. Spin around and stare up toward the other end. Twice. Three times.

There’s not a single person in sight.

I crouch down alongside Bobbie. Reach out to scratch the back of his head. I gaze back up the street, just on the off chance, but I know Bobbie’s spirit has already left.

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Python devours possum

Bowen Mountain resident John Holroyd watched a Diamond Python consume an entire possum in his backyard. Picture: John Holroyd.A Bowen Mountain resident was left stunned when he watched a Diamond Python attack and consume an entire possum in the backyard of his home in Bowen Mountain on New Years Eve.
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JohnHolroyd said he was shocked when he heard a commotion in a tree in his backyard to then find a python dangling from it with an entire possum hanging out of its mouth.

“It scared the living crap out of me,” Mr Holroyd said.

The weight of the meal eventually saw the snake fall from the tree onto the ground where it continued to constrict and consume its prey.

Mr Holroyd said he first noticed the snake in the tree at 1:50pm and said the snake finished consuming the possum at 4:30pm.

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“I was having a drink with a friend outside when I heard the commotion in the tree. I saw the possum and just thought the rustling was from that … then I saw the python,” he said.

“At that point I ran and got my neighbour and we were just standing there watching.”

Mr Holroyd said eventually he had a group of nine people in his yard watching the python, which is apparently well known to other residents in the street.

“Afew of them were saying that they actually know the snake, that they have seen it around before.”

READ MORE:Snake hitches ride from Eden to Pambula​

Mr Holroyd moved to Bowen Mountain with his partner Louise Merritt five months ago, and said it was the first time he had seen a snake at his home.

But snake catcher Yo Matthewsfrom Sydney Snake Catchers said Diamond Pythons were actually more common in the area then people know.

“You can find Diamond Pythons all the way up the east coast of NSW,” Mr Matthews said.

“These snakes are non venomous, non territorial, but have the ability to constrict and consume anything up to the size of a brushtail possum.”

Mr Matthews said that if anyone was to come past a scene similar as the one written about above, to keep a safe distance away from the snake.

“Keep your distance, give it its personal space just like any wildlife. Possums are the same, you wouldn’t just walk up to a possum and pat it as cute as they may look.”

Mr Matthews said at no time should anyone attempt to handle a Diamond Python and that it was illegal to do so without a handlers licence.

Hawkesbury Gazette

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