Hunting For The Girl Of The Week
Remember those coyote girls who left the bar a few months back?, he asks me.
They came to see me last night and asked if they could come back and work for me. They're back now, he says, obviously delighted.
If you want to do your girl of the week thing here, why don't you come over? I've got heaps of girls at the moment and some real babes!
Sure thing, I'll be there!
I get off the phone with the manager of Club Electric Blue. The dilemma of where to find this week's girl of the week is over. Next stop is Patpong and Club Electric Blue.
I'm perched near the back corner of the bar with the manager and ask him who he recommends, the one question he is guaranteed to be asked by at least one customer every night.
He turns and looks at me like I just said something profound. "I thought you didn't do that!"
I mean who do you think I should shoot for the column, silly?!
Club Electric Blue has gogo dancers and coyote dancers and the manager wasn't BSing me – there are many suitable candidates.
Via the mamasan the word is out. Stickman is here. They've heard how much attention one of the girls in The Strip got after she was mentioned in the column. With a few exceptions – a couple of average lookers and a couple so busy they don't need the publicity – most want to be the girl of the week.
It's still early but the bar is rocking. The girls are serious about winning and despite the early hour they're already getting in to the Tequila.
A confident girl comes over and poses. She's the Mike Tyson of Patpong! She ought to be congratulated for her enthusiasm but, my dear, I'm looking for a combination of femininity, sweetness and sex appeal.
Another lass trots over and catches my eye. Now that's more like it, a sweet smile, warm eyes and a friendly demeanour. Girlfriend experience all the way, I reckon, but we're looking for more than just demure. She's the best so far.
A dancer tells me I am in her way and motions for me to move. In your way? Really? She responds in rapid-fire Thai that she wants to do her makeup and needs light. She stamps her foot and pouts until I get the message and move. She crouches down in front of the fridge in the back corner and uses the light from the mirror to help apply her makeup.
Moving to the side of the bar gives a better view of the dancers. Blondie gives me a big smile. I'd later sit next to her and have a joke about her home province, Surin, known for the elephant roundup in November. Lovely girl, warm personality but I can never understand this preoccupation many Thai women have in the industry of dying their beautiful black hair. The farang male equivalent would be changing the colour of their Ferrari to bright pink.
The word is out and the girls playing it up for me, keen to be announced as the Stickman girl of the week, not that they have any idea what that is or what it means. But they love the fun of competing and trying to get one over their friends.
As the girls become friskier, I mention to a friend that it's starting to feel like the old days when the girls really played along with customers and reveled in the fun.
I wander around the bar looking for photogenic girls and discover 4 are feasting on instant noodles and mystery meat. A resounding chorus of aroi greets me when I ask them how it is. Despite the huge amount of money some of these girls make, and how important food and eating together with friends is in the local culture, I'm amazed at how little these girls spend on food.
A customer in the bar asks me what I'm doing. He seems jealous that I'm getting all the attention from the girls and most customers are almost invisible. He asks me to take his photo. I tell him that taking photos of blokes is not my thing – unless he puts on lipstick and gets a fake set of hooters in which case I'll happily oblige. No, not photos of him, but of him frolicking with the girls. He's buying drinks but the girls seem more interested in me than him. He ain't happy.
"I'm crazy!", he shouts, sticking his head between a dancer's legs. "Take my photograph!"
If I photograph you here your boss mightn't be too thrilled, I tell him.
"Don't worry, my boss knows what I'm like!" He starts putting his hands down girls' pants. I show little interest. He threatens to jump on stage. OK, Mr. Sauerkraut, if that's what it takes to stop you, here's your moment in the spotlight.
He gets a girl's attention and I return to the task at hand.
Back where I had been sitting, a lovely has commandeered my seat. With a sparkle in her eye and an infectious cheekiness, she stands out from the crowd. This one's got personality. I don't have to ask for her to pose as she cocks her head back and her eyes just tell me to go for it. The camera starts going mad. We have a genuine contender.
She's follows me around the bar, grabbing my arm, trying to win me over. She poses, encouraging me to take photo after photo almost like she knows that even with the prettiest girls, sometimes you have to fire a dozen or more to get the shot. With a look the Asian guys would go crazy over, she'd be a millionaire at Rainbow 4 or Bacarra. I ask her where she comes from, meaning which province, and she responds, "Japan!" She's clearly crazy about all things Japanese.
She becomes the frontrunner.
More customers seem to be eyeing up this lass than any other, but as pretty as she is, she's several kg too small for my liking. Give me a bit of meat on the bone, any day!
I find the sight of huge guys – let's define that as 120 kg up – who go for tiny, skinny girls of 40 kg or less to be disturbing. This one is so small that she'd look out of place next to a slim Caucasian guy; plain ridiculous next to a big guy. Is it some sort of fetish thing? The way smaller girls can be mistaken for a child at a distance, big guy / slim girl has always struck me as creepy and borderline disturbing.
My attention is caught by a coyote dancing up a storm. Even those dancing alongside can't help but admire they way she moves. She dances with the energy and enthusiasm of a professional and is the centre of attention. It's not the inane, reckless movements of someone high on meth, but of someone who really knows how to jiggle. The camera's autofocus system is like a bulldog's jaw, locking on to her and refusing to let go. At the same time her eyes lock on me. We're caught in each other's tunnel of vision, each refusing to let go. I'm the first to look away. When I look back she gives me a knowing look. She wants it. I want it. It to her is being crowned girl of the week. It to me is something else.
I've captured most of the girls through the lens and reviewing the photos it's going to be hard to know who to choose.
With a warm smile and a pleasant demeanour, this one's Stick's archetype. But a warm personality does not always correlate to sex appeal and sex appeal is one of the keys to being chosen as girl of the week.
The girls slowly lose interest in me and concentrate on the real customers. Collectively they've gone through a few bottles of the nasty stuff. I'm offered a shot. Is she trying to influence my decision? Does she think I can be bought? My dear, Stick is incorruptible!
Many questions came in this past week about the new girl of the week section. What was the reason behind it? How is the girl chosen? Will it feature only girls in bars? Why isn't more info included about the lady? Why, why, why?!
Essentially I want to showcase more of the photos I take every week and include those which I think readers will enjoy. Good, clean photos of pretty ladies currently in the bars is a formula that I think will work.
The decision is made and this week's girl of the week is chosen. You'll have to scroll down to find out who tickled Stick's fancy…
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was on Sukhumvit Road, looking across at the entrance to soi 7/1. There is one prize this week, a 500-baht voucher for Firehouse in Sukhumvit soi 11, known for its excellent hamburgers.
Terms and conditions: The prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize
per calendar month. You only have one guess per week!
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – The price of fun.
I have to comment on the escort business and the cost of bargirls. Whilst I am way past that now, happily married with a 4-year old daughter and living outside Bangkok, I find it ridiculous that people are paying the prices that are being quoted. 2 hours for 5,000 baht, all night for 10,000 baht? With the westernisation of Bangkok and many Thai women falling into the one-night stand category, I cannot see how anyone would pay these prices. And even if you can't get a one-night stand, 5,000 baht would certainly pay for a couple of crates of beer, months of wi-fi access and a doorway to unlimited porn! If I were single there is no way I would pay 5,000 – 10,000 baht for the lard asses working in bars now!
Gogo girls as cold as a Canadian winter.
Being from Canada, I like to escape the long Canadian winters. As I get older, I am no longer the 2-week millionaire tourist, but now the 2-month beat the cold tourist. It has become a sad situation as I find that I have to watch my money a lot more than when I came for a few weeks. I enjoy my time in the gogo bars, but over the last few years I have found I frequent them less. The prices have got out of hand, not only the drink prices, but the lady prices as well. By the time I pay for my drinks, barfine, and girl's fee it is not the bargain it once was. A girl from a local gogo was always willing to accept 3K long time. Upon my return this year, she informed me that she now will not accept less than 5K. She happens to be one of the top girls at a well known gogo. I now go the beer bar or freelancer route and in most cases, the evening is much more enjoyable and at a fraction of the cost. The gogo bars have lost my business.
A positive escort experience.
I'm by no means an expert but talking with escort girls they seem genuinely happy to be working as an escort rather than hustling in a bar, and it seemed that while management was active behind the scenes, they never pushed the girls but were much more concerned about their well-being. The ladies also seemed to enjoy freedom as I hit it off with one and she stayed well past the time she was supposed to leave in the morning which resulted in a phone call from the madam about whether she was ok. Since she didn't have anything on the schedule for the day she instead told her manager she was going to hang out with me and show me some sights. There was no request for payment, or adding any extra fees (and I never paid a cent more than I had arranged). The manager was completely fine and I even received a very friendly email at the end of my vacation thanking me for treating the girls well, and talking about how well they all spoke of me (I'm sure part of that is just buttering up the customer). In either case I was pretty impressed. I have never used the bars I don't imagine you get the same response from them.
All about the women.
I imagine we would be in our own countries if we had the same access to women as we do in South-East Asia. Since we lack that option and the ability to get laid on demand, we flock over here. Having someone with you, spouse, girlfriend, etc that you are content with eliminates the hours spent dwelling on the remote possibility of getting laid. I think over here you can channel more focus and energy on other things because you're not thinking about getting laid.
I was sorry to hear The Ship Inn had given up the ghost. I first knew it in the mid-1970s when it was The George and Dragon pub / restaurant run by a Geordie medic who worked on oil rigs. We used to call him Doc and he was married to a Thai. They had a son in about 1979. The food was excellent in those days and when I was in Bangkok during 2010 and 2011 I paid The Ship Inn several visits. The food was still excellent, but the customers were thin on the ground, sometimes fewer customers than staff. I very much liked a barmaids from Khon Kaen, so I'm sorry she's out of work. Although very attractive she was a little older than the average on Soi Cowboy and she had a child at home to support, so I hope she found another job soon.
Does the farang still pay too much?
I needed a new battery for one of my watches so I entered a fancy shop in Soi Onut. The owner, an ethnic Chinese woman, had a brief glance and then said, "Sorry for this type of watch we do not have a battery. Try next door." So I did and had to deal with an older Chinese man. He said, "I can offer a first class battery for 300 baht." When I replied that during 20 years in Thailand I had never had to pay more than 100 baht, he said, "Ok, 150 baht." I left his shop without saying anything. The foreigner is rich so milk him as long as you can and then kick his ass. That still seems to be the way for some.
Fortune tellers, explained.
I spent my youth (admittedly not far off) growing up in a superstitious house so I'm familiar with all manner of fortune tellers, astrologers, tarot reading etc. It's all actually based on a simple technique called "cold reading" that takes into account factors such as appearance, body language, clothing, etc and it is the nom de guerre of fortune telling. It's a hard thing to master but the pros can really pull it off without a hitch making them appear to have second sight or what not. Funnily enough, the same technique is used by professional interrogators on suspects, to get in their heads. But after talking to some friends who have spent years in Hong Kong it seems all opposite halves that grow up on that side of the world have a fervent belief in the efficacy of fortune tellers.
Girl of the week
Taitle, coyote dancer, Club Electric Blue, Patpong 2.
20 years young, the curiously nicknamed Taitle is Bangkok-born and bred.
She loves to dance up on a storm on stage and show off her huge full-back tattoo.
Lecherous Lee and I were both drooling over her typical Bangkok looks.
Lee said he would buy her a pickup truck. I told her I would buy her a house. She said she liked me 🙂
If she looks familiar, here's the first time she featured in this column.
Next month marks the 10-year anniversary of Club Electric Blue at Patpong and owner Big Andy will celebrate with draft beer and Tequila shots at 50 baht. There will be no restrictions and it will be 50 baht all night, every night, for all of June.
It might be called Lighthouse in English, but to the Thais it's still Sheba's – with the sign at the entrance to Soi Cowboy's newest bar clearly saying Sheba's in the local script. That's to satisfy the registration requirements and the bar will forever be Lighthouse to customers. Inside Lighthouse feels like a combination of Shark and Baccara and features a glass ceiling with an upstairs dance floor which for the time being is not being utilised. The venue appears to be no smoking but a few girls were smoking up top. The drinks menu is direct from Shark – no surprises, it's the same owner – with a 70 baht happy hour through until 8 PM and regular gogo bar prices after that. There's a proper set of steps and handrails for the girls to get on and off the stage so they won't have to cover up bruises from falling after too many Tequilas. Many of the first generation of Lighthouse staff are transplants from Shark. While the bar has been open a week, construction continues and the frontage is far from finished.
Zen Bar, the small beer bar right beside the entrance to Nana Plaza, has a new Brit manager. He's still getting in to the swing of things but expect to see changes. He has threatened to crack the whip and is not going to allow the bar to meander along as it has been.
The reasons for the demise of The Ship Inn in Sukhumvit soi 23 have become clear. The photography shop next door to The Ship Inn on Sukhumvit soi 23 was taken over by the owners of the Corner Bar at the other end of Cowboy. The Ship Inn took over the computers and photograph equipment from the shop and continued to offer the service. The photo shop goes back a lot further than The Ship, and has an upstairs above The Ship. The Ships Inn's extractor fans went from the kitchen through their ceiling, up a wall and through the roof. The new owners told them that they couldn't have the extractor fan going up the wall, so they effectively lost their kitchen. Without the ability to serve food the pub was no longer viable and that was that!
This week felt like the week after Songkran as the number of visitors in town took a dip compared with just a week ago. Bar bosses and hoteliers are in agreement – while we have officially been in the low season for a few weeks, we finally have low season crowds. With that said, it feels like a medium-sized Chinese town has been dumped on Sukhumvit. Chinamen are everywhere.
Strikers Sports Pub in the Raja Hotel car park has a Back to School party this coming Friday. Details below.
There's another scam to be mindful of in downtown Bangkok, but don't go blaming this one on the locals. It's being carried out by Filipinos. It started in Sukhumvit soi 22 and has spread to Nana. The scammers roam the streets with a laminated card and claim they are collecting for children as part of the JC Society Foundation. No website or details about this 'charity' exists in Google, an obvious red flag. A friend was approached 4 times in 1 hour this week at the Golden Bar in Soi Nana. When he told 2 collectors that he would like to take their picture and promote their charity in the Bangkok Post, they quickly disappeared.
Movie buffs should pop by The Friese-Greene Club, a small club just off Sukhumvit soi 22 that opened last night. It has been designed as a place for people who love films – film-makers, film journalists, film students, actors and anyone with a genuine passion for film. It is a quiet place where you can catch up with like-minded folks, watch new trailers, browse the library, or enjoy a drink. It features a 9-seat cinema which will show old, cult and classic films and there will be film showings for members. It's a private club so that they can stick to their core demographic. A membership fee may be charged, but anyone who joins in the first week will get a year's free membership. Swing by and visit this week to qualify for free membership. It's on Sukhumvit 22, immediately after the Imperial Queen's Park Hotel.
A few years ago it seemed like every other week there were articles in the press about how Thailand was promoting itself as a medical tourism destination and anyone who has been to Bumrungrad International recently knows it's working – most patients are foreigners. But not all medical services are of the same standard and a friend of mine found that out the hard way. With his medical history it is recommended that he gets regular health checkups and last week he went for a checkup. Concerns led to extra scans being performed and that's where the problems started. From radiologists who couldn't scan properly to doctors refusing to give a second opinion on scans from another facility and conflicting analysis from different doctors, he visited 3 big name Bangkok hospitals as well as another well regarded facility and kept getting different opinions. Seriously concerned that he had a major health issue which he could not get a firm diagnosis on from a doctor in Bangkok and having lost all confidence in Thai doctors, he jumped on a plane and headed for Malaysia. In Kuala Lumpur he found a hospital with doctors he said were open, thorough and who inspired confidence with their communication, explanations and general competence. 4 days, in excess of 100,000 baht and much anxiety later, he found out that he was in fact clear of any health issues. * It should be noted that his experience at Bumrungrad International, which is generally regarded as Thailand's best hospital, was very positive and that hospital's diagnoses was exactly the same as the one he received in KL.
ViagraGirlEscort has put together a VIP package. Book it and you'll be met at the airport by 2 escorts of your choice, accompanied to a limousine, whisked off to a fancy suite in a top hotel with a Jacuzzi and sauna, and complimentary champagne will be provided. The Viagra girls take along a collection of toys and uniforms to spice things up and are trained in nuru massage to help you unwind. If you want to treat yourself, check the package out at BangkokEscort.com.
Getting a cab from Patpong late at night needn't be a problem. If you cannot find a cabbie who will turn on the meter, just cross Silom Road and jump in a taxi on the other side of the road i.e. a cab heading down Silom Road towards the river. They will almost certainly turn on the meter as there are fewer passengers on that side of the road late at night. It is the cabs on Suriwong Road (going in both directions) and those going up Silom Road towards Rama 4 Road which are often reluctant to turn on the meter.
Sunrise Tacos short-ribs are amazing! I don't do ribs and when I was asked to try them, I declined, explaining that I don't eat pork. But they're beef, I was told. OK, so I gave them a go….and they are great. If you like beef ribs, check them out.
It used to be that the Sheraton Grande and the Plaza Athenee had the best buffets of the 5-star hotels in the Sukhumvit / Ploenchit area with the JW Marriott and the Westin pretty good too and the Landmark lagging somewhat behind. Oh how things have changed. The Sheraton Grande has slipped while the Landmark is now superb, especially at the weekend. Pricing varies day to day, and runs around 2,000 baht per head net, but if 4 or more dine there's a 50% discount, meaning the total cost for 4 diners would be 4,000 baht, or just 1,000 baht per head – a bargain for that quality. The buffet doesn't feature much local fare and shirks the practice of padding the buffet out with average dishes that you're better off avoiding so you can enjoy the good stuff like the imported meats and seafood. The quality of the food ranges from very good to exceptional. For this quality at this price, it's a fantastic deal.
A new border crossing opened up in Prachuap Khiri Khan province (the province which Hua Hin is part of) allowing passage between Thailand and Myanmar, but for Thai and Myanmar nationals only. What would have been a boon for those in and around Hua Hin for visa runs is not an option, at least not yet. With a bit of luck it will open up to foreigners soon.
To save the hassle of carrying your passport or a photocopy of your passport on you, have photos / scans of the main page of your passport as well as your visa saved in your mobile phone. If by any chance you are stopped by the authorities and asked to produce your passport, I'm sure this would be accepted in most cases.
Speaking of the authorities, I have not received a single report of a cop stopping anyone walking near Asoke or around Sukhumvit soi 22 for about a month.
I've said this before, but I think it's worth repeating. Breaking up with a local woman can be problematic, especially if she has moved in. Some can become quite vindictive and the thinking seems to go something like this – I feel really bad about this so I am going to do everything I can to make him feel at least as bad as I do! I think the best approach to breaking up with a Thai woman is to turn things around and tell her that the problem is you, not her. Explain that you don't want to call it off, but there's a problem that you don't have a solution for and it would not be fair on her for the two of you to stay together. Money problems is an easy explanation and puts many women off. Make up a (plausible) story – but one that she cannot verify. While I believe it is almost always best to be honest, breaking up with women who don't play fair is an exception. Unless she is highly Westernised and welcomes open discussion, I would not recommend trying to talk the issue out. It just doesn't seem to work here and no amount of being reasonable or explaining things helps. Tell her how sorry you are and horrible it will be to lose her, and with a bit of luck you'll avoid any theatrics!
The owner of Remax Property Services in Bangkok is looking to sell up so he can concentrate on other business interests. He is willing to sell the entire business – a business along with a fully equipped 5-storey shophouse including downstairs offices and upstairs living accommodation along with the franchise OR the franchise only OR he is willing to rent out the shophouse only. Anyone interested please send me an email which I will forward to him.
New street signs are being erected in downtown Bangkok. Bright, shiny and clear, they are larger and more vivid than the existing signs. They don't, however, have the classic style and charm of the signs they replace.
Quote of the week comes from Dave The Rave when a guy leapt up on stage and started dancing with a gogo girl, "I don't know what song he's dancing to but it isn't the one the DJ's playing!"
Reader's story of the week is an introspective look at a single man enjoying life, "Bangkok Lost".
An Aussie who was arrested in Bangkok in 1993 for drug smuggling is extradited to the US and then
back to Australia.
A group of English mothers have started a group about what they call the undocumented dangers of Thailand's roads.
A rise in the number of Brits marrying Thai brides
is blamed for an increase in the cost of pensions paid abroad.
A foreigner is badly beaten up for not paying a tuktuk driver who demanded a ridiculous 2,000 baht.
The Bangkok Post says that online sex sites are booming in Thailand.
Chiang Mai tops the list of a place of affordable places for Americans to retire.
Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal
Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department
directly for all of your legal needs.
Question 1: I married a Thai women after 3 years of going to Thailand each year for 2 weeks. Did the dowry, no marriage there, did the K-1, brought her back to America. We
got married here in October 2012. She went back to Thailand February 18 2013 for knee surgery (supposedly) which I sent her $5,200 for but she never had done. She said she would come back in April but after I didn't send her money she wanted
for her "sick" papa she said she found a job in a factory and stopped talking to me when I asked if she loves me. She hasn't emailed me the 2 months she's been there. She was a pretty good liar. I thought she loved me but I
guess people will do anything for money. I found out she's had a boyfriend all the time I've known her. She has lied to me from day one. With lawyers' fees and everything I'm out about $20,000 overall. Just the feeling that
her boyfriend was pimping her out to me is not good. I found out she has a girlfriend in California. I'm in Texas. I think she planned on coming back to stay and work in California and filed an annulment on 5/2/2012. She got her work permit
when she was here. I reported her with her passport number to USCIS as fraud yesterday. I guess my question is can she come back to America and can she work here after I reported her as a fraud and the whole marriage is a sham? I cannot be held
responsible for someone I have no control of.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: As your marriage was registered in the United States, under US laws any such report must be done in accordance with US law. You may check with the USCIS online or in an office as to whether or not they would still allow her to enter the country. Since it is all computerized if the USCIS were to follow then it would be determined at her port of entry.
Question 2: My teeruk said she has 3 sons, but her girlfriend told me that she has 2 sons and one daughter and the oldest guy she calls her son is her lover! How can I find out
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: If this is only a girlfriend then you have several options which include walking away from the relationship, or hiring a private investigator to determine the truth.
If she is your legal wife then you have more options:
A. Retain a private investigator to collect information for your divorce case; and
B. Perform search with Population Census and statistic, if truth shows that her so-called son was actually her lover; then
C. Proceed with the divorce case under section 1516(1) – this you may have to consider the marital assets involved in the divorce; and
D. Proceed with the second lawsuit (against her lover) for the loss and damages to your reputation.
Sunbelt Legal Advisors can help negotiate the divorce agreement if you are legally married.
Question 3: I have had permanent resident status for about 8 years. I have now heard that a permanent resident is allowed to import one car for his own use free of taxes and import duty. Is this true and if so what are the rules and limitations?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: According to the Customs Department, there has been no recent announcement offering tax exemption for PR holders when importing a personal vehicle from abroad. However, there is a discount on a used vehicle (similar to depreciation value).
The terms and conditions are:
1. You will be limited to import only 1 vehicle per person.
2. The foreigner must be residing in Thailand for no less than 1 year.
3. The ownership of the imported vehicle must be in the possession of the applicant for no less than 1 year and 6 months
Please note that the import duties are based on the size of the engine (in terms of CCs) as well as the cost involved (such as CIF), while the discount (depreciation) is based on the number of years that it is first used. Sunbelt Legal Advisors can assist you in determining your eligibility for the discount and importing a vehicle.
This week's opening piece is the first in what will be a few revolving around Patpong. Before Songkran I mentioned that I would be taking a closer look at the city's oldest bar area and that starts now. Patpong has been off the radar for many, having gained a bad rep from years of pesky touts, ongoing scams and a lack of investment. The touts are still there and the scams still take place, but there are quite a few good bars, in Patpong soi 2 especially, some of which are doing better than ever. You can have a great time at Patpong if you know where to go and out and about with a Nana Plaza bar manager this week, even he said that Patpong is free of the attitude which is so prevalent on Sukhumvit. I'm going to profile Patpong's hot spots, take a look at some of the long-running venues that have been around for 20, 30 and even 40+ years ago and am trying to wrangle an interview with one of the Patpong group. I won't go as far as saying Patpong is back, but I'm going to do my best to convince you that it is worth another look at the very least.
Your Bangkok commentator,