Once upon a time Play Skool on Nana Plaza's ground floor was one of the most popular bars in Bangkok. That, however, was 15 long years ago. Its popularity was not due to pretty dancers nor a fantastic happy hour. Play Skool was popular because it played exactly the music that punters of the day wanted to listen to, classic rock. When the bar changed hands so did the music and with that Play Skool's appeal faded. Years of mediocrity followed until Play Skool was taken over by the Stumble Inn Group who rebuilt it and recruited the best gogo bar manager in the business. But even Captain Hornbag couldn't turn the newly done out venue around. The owners of Play Skool have been tinkering with the formula ever since and I thought it was about time to take another look.
The first thing you notice in Play Skool is that there is no lack of dancers. It was a Friday night, admittedly, and the stage was packed, with nary space for another dancer to join the fray, no matter how lithe she may be.
And more than a few of the dancers were easy on the eye.
The mamasan would explain that Friday and Saturday are the busiest nights – not only because most expats don't work the next day, but because many of the dancers are university students who don't have classes at the weekend and they work Friday and Saturday night only. Reading between the lines, yes, Play Skool has a good few uni students dancing at the weekend.
A pretty lady with a very pleasant demeanour, her sweetness strikes me as being in total contrast with the huge chest tattoo she is sporting. I get her to pose in such a way that you can't see quite how large the chest tattoo is.
Even better, she poses in a way that the tattoo is totally out of sight and doesn't she look good!
Featured in last week's column, the twins of Play Skool's stock is on the rise. Of mixed Thai + Vietnamese heritage, the media manager for Play Skool told me that there has been much interest shown in them since they appeared in last week's edition.
Steady on there, madam, don't pull the curtains back any further!
Vietnamese ladies are known for being busty while Thai girls certainly aren't. I guess the Vietnamese genes are strong in these two.
They tell me they are identical twins but #44 strikes me as a lot more attractive than #42.
How would I feel if I was with a lady for the first time, was peeling back the layers and I came across a tattoo on or near her breast. How would I react?
Long-time readers know that I find tattoos on females dreadfully unseemly. In New Zealand it seems that half – or more – of young people have tattoos, and not just one or two but many, some covering entire parts of their body. The days of tattoos being the domain of sailors, labourers, jailbirds and hookers is the distant past, but that perception is still strong in image-conscious Thailand, even if more middle-class Thai women are inked these days.
Slim, wavy hair and tattoo-free, now we're talking! Wavy hair on Thai females can be spectacular, all the better if you find one of those rare Thai ladies who has naturally wavy hair. I've only met a few and all have come from the south.
Sultry and sexy, she was a candidate for girl of the week, and my favourite of the Play Skool crew.
No matter what I tried I just could not get her to smile or pose sexy, so when I asked her to think of a nice customer, she makes a fist and sneers! She then makes her hand in to the shape of a gun, points it at a guy in the bar and pretends to shoot him, before pulling her top up and showing me the tattoo of two pistols on her stomach and laughing. A nutter or a wicked sense of humour? I think I'd go the latter!
Wavy hair I like, blondes I don't – be it naturally blonde or, in the case of blonde-haired Thai women, dyed.
Play Skool was rebuilt to western standards, the project managed by Westerners with experience in the UK's building industry. Everything works well and even though it's a few years since the rebuild, it still feels nice inside. There is, however, something about the layout inside which makes it feel cramped. It's not that the interior is smaller than other bars – there are smaller bars in the plaza like DC 10 and Sexy night – there is something about it which makes the interior feel cramped.
A couple of friends with tattoos tell me that it is considered very uncool to criticise someone's tattoos – which I reckon says more about their sensitivity than anything, especially when they're not shy to say what they think about things they don't approve of. I couldn't care less if friends have tattoos – they are old and wise enough to know the repercussions and were not led in to it through peer pressure. Commenting as I do about tattoos on young, often impressionable Thai women, it's somewhat different. In a country where image really is everything, a lady with decorative tattoos (as opposed to traditional tattoos) may find her opportunities limited and social mobility hindered.
My guess is that this lady will be the most popular featured today. Dark-skinned and small-framed, that look seems to appeal to many Westerners who end up in the naughty bars.
This lady had a fantastic attitude, the best of any dancer in the bar. She mightn't be the prettiest, but she was full of energy, bouncing around – and not some ya ba-fueled energy – she just seemed happy and wanted to have fun. She had a ready smile painted on her face and struck me as a genuinely nice, warm-hearted girl.
Play Skool is one of those Nana bars that had (note: past tense) up until recently a handful of ladyboys, some who may have been post-op. It's a practice in the bars that I find really quite appalling. Sense has prevailed and Play Skool is now 100% real ladies. Given that the bar became known for being home to a handful of ladyboys, they really ought to erect a sign outside to say that now it is only ladies in the bar.
When will those bar owners who insist on this practice realise that mixing ladies and ladyboys in the same bar just does not work? For proof, just look next door to Play Skool where London Burning commits this very crime. It is one of the reasons it is one of the worst, if not the very worst bar in the plaza. I don't say this as any sort of anti-ladyboy feeling. I have no issue with ladyboys whatsoever, as next week's column will prove. I just think mixing ladies and ladyboys in a bar is silly and doing it on the sly with a few ladyboys purporting to be real ladies is just plain wrong.
Play Skool management ought to take a look at Billboard for ideas to make better use of the Jacuzzi. My advice would be to rip the current one out and go for the bigger size, jam in several ladies and make it the focus point of the bar. Girls frolicking in a Jacuzzi gets customers in the door!
The Jacuzzi in Play Skool is under-utilized. At the very least it should be filled with water and bubble bath and the girls told to get imaginative and play!
It is true that Play Skool has a bunch of attractive ladies, but it is just as true that a great line-up is not the only component of a great bar. Despite all of the pretty dancers, there's something missing. Play Skool reminds me of that chocolate cake that looks sumptuous but when you take a bite it doesn't taste nearly as good as it looks. Play Skool is still very much worth dropping by – and if you're looking for company there is no shortage of attractive maidens – while at the same time I can't shake the feeling that there's something missing, and I just can't put my finger on what that is.
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken in Benjasiri Park, next to the Emporium Shopping Centre. The lady in the photo was an escort who was to be featured as a girl of the week but for some reason I cannot remember (the photo was taken quite some time ago), I never did run that photo set.
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: Brexit being felt in Pattaya.
Recent Brexit events have already started to hit expats. Our golfing group now only plays once a week, with many Brits now missing out occasional weeks. And this is in low season when golf course pricing is relaxed. When high season kicks in we will see fewer players. It's simple: our UK pensions have decreased in baht terms by nearly 15% since the Brexit vote and we can do nothing about it. Prices generally are increasing, but we have less to spend. Something has to give, and golf is an easy first option, with the day costing around 2K baht (without any post-golf entertainment). In fact, whereas many golf groups used to frequent bars after a game, now many just have a beer and go home. With many bars having to use "outside" rooms, the barfine is effectively doubled – making a short-time around 2K including a few lady drinks, barfine and the "fee". It's got to a stage where we no longer meet up in a bar, we source drinks from local stores and drink at home. The lower the pound gets, the less there is after monthly home expenses. The golf industry may start to feel this in high season, the bars already are!
Rice in China.
In China rice is served last, almost as the meal is finishing. The idea is that you eat all of the flavoured dishes that you ordered to enjoy them as much as you can and then you use the rice to fill your stomach in case you are not full from the main dishes. But that is a smart and cultured society where things are done with purpose and reason. I am quite certain in Thailand rice is served last due to laziness and incompetence especially as it is not a routine thing.
Rice in Thailand.
Serving rice late is a hi-so issue because if you are hi-so you want to enjoy the taste of the food and not just fill your stomach like a farmer. If you ever go out with the complete hierarchy of Thai society like senior officers, senior NCOs and junior NCOs you will see that nobody of a lower rank will touch food that has not been tasted by higher ranks except if higher ranks explicitly ask them to taste it. So in the end, when the high ranks head out, some of the junior ranks will not have had too much food. Therefore the boss will order rice and a couple of beers for the boys who are still hungry. They always order some rice at the end of an invitation with junior ranks. The same is in China with the soup at the end, for those who are still hungry. If everybody is feeling hungry you have explicitly to order the rice to be served with the food. I am frequently out with RTA and it is always like that.
Rice in Japan.
I've lived in Japan for some time and that restaurant habit exasperated me for some time. It was explained to me that for Japanese, rice is considered a dish in and of itself, not an accessory like Westerners seem to treat it. If you've had Japanese rice, you WILL see it's quite different and tasty! It's almost akin to a dessert for them. But I guess I'll always be a gaijin. I want my damn rice with the rest of my meal!
A city of renovations.
A motorcycle taxi guy on the corner of Soi Nana told me the petrol station is merely undergoing brup-broong (improvements). Though it would have taken me half the day to read the sign out the front, it does have the PTT logo on it, which suggests we're just going to get a new servo. Sign says 150 days for renovation. I have noticed quite a lot of these places around town are being renovated, with expanded shops. There's intense competition between 7-11s, Family Marts and, of late, service stations to turn them into virtual supermarkets, taking on the likes of Tops, Villa and Foodland.
What you miss about living in Thailand.
I bet I know one thing that you miss about living in Thailand (not necessarily Thailand itself) and it will be the one thing I will miss when we move away. This one thing is such a big draw that it may be enough not to move away. It is the ability to easily, quickly and cheaply skip over to another Asian country for a break. I can't think of anywhere else in the world where you can so easily and cheaply go away to a different place and culture for 2 to 3 days and not break the bank. It's super easy and super affordable in terms of flights, accommodation etc. And there is a huge diversity with anywhere from China to Hong Kong to Nepal to India to Vietnam and the list goes on. That, I think cannot be found anywhere else in the world and it is very alluring. I would greatly miss that ability to so easily feel like a man of the world for next to nothing. Sure Europe kind of has it but at what cost?
The no-go girls.
What if dancers who don't go with customers simply didn't wear a number? Also, any regular dancer not available that night, for whatever reason, could remove her number. Doesn't mean they aren't up for a few drinks.
A Crazy House die-hard is converted.
A friend was at Billboard on Friday and described it as absolutely rocking. He said there were too many girls and they were almost falling off the stage. He said he barely sat down and 3 girls were all over him. He said Billboard is now much better than Crazy House. This was coming from a die-hard fan of Crazy House which was the only gogo he would go to. I told him he should take a look at Billboard but it took him months to finally go there. Guess he thought nothing could beat Crazy House. I was at Crazy House on Friday, walked in and easily got a seat. It used to be that it was impossible to get a seat downstairs on a Friday night and they would usher you upstairs. Could Billboard be drawing punters away from Crazy House?
Reflecting on Nana Plaza.
I know you say that Nana now is the happening spot as far as gogos go. I would love to go there more often but it's still a pain in the arse there. They got rid of the ladyboys blocking the entrance, but they're still all over the inside. It's nearly impossible to go to any all-girl bar without running the gauntlet of ladyboys. I try to look down but am afraid of one of them grabbing me. I also hate how the sidewalks are taken over by the vendors so that you get pushed and elbowed trying to walk to Nana. Sometimes I go out on the street to walk, but am always reminded of the guy that got clobbered by a truck mirror and never survived. A friend fell – I can't remember if he stumbled or was pushed – and stuck his arm out to break the fall, only to have his hand land on one of those grills! He got his palm burned badly, as you can imagine. I am always worried that that could happen to me. If they made Soi Nana a walking street like Soi Cowboy it would be much better, but that's not going to happen. Soi Cowboy keeps getting narrower and narrower, and now the tourists and sightseers clog it up and block your way, but it's still a lot more pleasant and, I dare say, safer than Nana, so I will continue to spend most of my time at Soi Cowboy. Nana Plaza needs to make it very clear to the ladyboys that they cannot grab people walking by or block their way. Better yet, they should group the ladyboy bars together so you can avoid them altogether. And the authorities need to clear out all the vendors between Sukhumvit and the entrance to Nana Plaza.
Girl of the Week
Bovi, escort @ NewBangkokEscort
Bangkok-born, Bovi is a cheerful, happy-go-lucky young lady.
A Uni student, Bovi recently finished her Bachelor's and is now pursuing a Master's.
She has dreams to fulfill and wants to get there by her own means.
The low season hasn't felt like the low season at all in Bangkok's naughty nightlife bars with some venues reporting record low season numbers – let me translate that: record highs for the low season! The Strip in Patpong had its best night ever this past week, beating anything they have done, even in the peak of high season! A number of bars across the 3 major nightlife areas have had a good week. Word from Pattaya is that for many bars this year's low season has been dire.
Patpong soi 2 is not without its problems with a number of bars closed and empty spaces with the shutters down creating dark spots along the soi which is not a good look for an entertainment area.
Has Nana Plaza been renamed to just "Nana", or are the owners slack in getting the main sign out the front fixed? The word "Plaza" is not currently illuminated.
Mandarin, on the middle floor of Nana Plaza, is throwing a party so big, it can't be contained to just one day. To mark the Obon holiday in Japan – one of the two biggest vacation-travel periods of the year – Mandarin is throwing its own Obon Festival for its many customers from the Land of the Rising Sun. From August 11th – 14th – the peak Obon holiday period – Mandarin will have a sexy stable of sirens dressed in Sailor Moon-style schoolgirls and be offering specially-imported Japanese sake at just 79 baht a shot.
The streetside bars that went missing for a while on the main Sukhumvit Road near the McDonald's at soi 5, are back in operation. I am told buxom African hookers holler out their equivalent of hello, hansum man to passersby.
The lights can be turned off in Sukhumvit soi 7 after the last remaining shop in the first block on the soi – a massage outlet – closed this week. A little further up soi 7, the Biergarten remains open and it's business as usual.
The Game (below the Nana BTS station, between Sukhumvit sois 9 and 11) along with Hacklberg Beer will host an All-You-Can-Drink-Beer-Tasting & Gourmet Buffet this coming Thursday, August 11th from 6 – 9 PM. It's a chance to sample Hacklberg beer and gorge yourself on American food. You can stuff yourself silly with beer and food for 3 hours for just 750 baht net.
If you're going to be anywhere near Pattaya on Saturday August 20th, Captain Hornbag will celebrate his birthday by hosting a Nanapong-style dance contest. The fun will take place at Dollhouse in Pattaya, which is on soi 15, just off Walking Street.
The bar I once called my favourite, Secrets in Pattaya will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a party fitting of such an occasion on September 1st.
Bangkok's wildest gogo bar, Crazy House, on Sukhumvit soi 23 – just around the corner from Soi Cowboy, has taken its horrible variants of the ping pong ball show from upstairs and moved them to the main bar area, downstairs. Do these seedy shows have anything to do with the changing profile of Crazy House customers? The crowds at Crazy House used to be predominately white guys, but now there are more Asian visitors than before. Crazy House celebrated its 4th anniversary this past week.
The ladyboys at the Check-In Bar, the last operating business in The Tunnel, officially reopen their new bar this Saturday, August 13th, on Sukhumvit soi 10. The lounge bar has two pool tables, separate bars for smokers and non-smokers, and with 24 rooms being renovated upstairs, it officially becomes the Check-Inn Residence & Bar, a format already established in Pattaya at La Bamba and the Love Time Inn. Only two of the rooms are now available – @ 350 baht for an hour – with others to be offered for longer occupancy as they come on line. The bar is located on the short, looping sub-soi – so there are two entrances – just a few steps into soi 10 on the left, not far from the Lollipop BJ bar. The doors open from 4:30 PM and the fun continues until late. Prices are unchanged from the previous location: 120 baht for beer, 190 for cocktails, 150 for ladyboy drinks and barfines run 600 baht. Check-In also offers something I don't think I have heard of in any other bar, a group rate barfine, 500 baht for up to four girls at the same time.
It's not only Thailand that is getting expensive. A mate was in Indonesia this past week and enquired about the services of a lady in a freelancer bar to keep him company for a couple of hours. $300, she said, and didn't blink an eyelid!
In 2011 a Bangkok blogger wrote an article about how you don't see aged ladyboys out and about. The post included photos of ladyboys out and about in public. In Thailand, the sight of ladyboys going about their lives like everyone else is a daily occurrence and no-one thinks twice about it. However, apparently someone in Google's AdSense department has decided that no matter whether ladyboys are in public or not, photos of them posted on websites using the Google Adsense program violate its policy. Twice before, Google suspended AdSense ads on that site simply because the site ran innocuous posts about ladyboys, and then twice relented and allowed the ads to be reinstated on appeal. A third cycle of suspension is underway and it would seem that someone at Google is applying their own personal standards. Has someone in Google's Adsense department gone rogue? The writer of the blog who contacted me about it is of the opinion that the decision by Google is most likely in violation of US laws in that it discriminates against the LGBT sector of society. The people behind the blog have opened the door to any lawyer who wants to run with this and possibly make a name for themselves by going up against the big boys.
It often seems like Thailand is less the land of smiles, more the land of crackdowns with crackdown after crackdown reported in the press. All sorts of things are being tightened up on, some of which really do need to be looked at but others might surprise you. A good example of something which needs to be cracked down on is the way that Thailand has long been lax in enforcing the laws regarding the dispensing of pharmaceuticals. Go to any pharmacy on Sukhumvit and you can buy all manner of (often strong) drugs over the counter without a doctor's prescription. The authorities are now enforcing the law that says that pharmacies must have a sign displayed clearly stating who the on-duty qualified pharmacist is and drugs can only be sold when that person is on duty. When the pharmacist is off-premises, drugs cannot be sold and in the likes of Boots and Watson's, when the pharmacist is out blinds are pulled down to cover the drug cabinets and notices state clearly in both Thai and English that drugs cannot be sold when the pharmacist is not present.
And the crackdown on the issuance of visas for Thailand is seeing things get tighter in the United States with the Thai consulate in New York no longer issuing multiple entry non-immigrant B visas, citing new regulations. For the last few years, the New York consulate was described as a soft touch. So long as you made the application in person (as opposed to putting it in the post), the holy grail of visas, the non-immigrant B, would be issued.
Before the GFC hit in 2008, plenty of Westerners gave up good jobs in their homeland to pursue a new life in Thailand. There seems to be less of that these days and those moving to Thailand seem to be much younger or retired. You don't hear nearly as many stories of people actually giving up a good job in Farangland and taking the punt if pursuing a better life in Thailand. Is there a feeling that good jobs are much more difficult to come by back home and the chances of getting back in to a similar job might not be great?
The chain of French patisseries, Paul, has opened a few branches in Bangkok over the past couple of years. They're nicely done out and have gorgeously presented cakes and pastries, just like you'd see in Paris – and priced the same as you'd pay in Paris. There is something about the Paul patisseries, especially the branch in Emporium, which makes them a paradise for posers. Hi-so wannabes sit there forever, daintily pecking away at the farang fare (which I am not even sure they like all that much). It's all about being seen, about showing that you can pay top dollar for something, and there's something about that which I find rather off-putting, to the extent that I would avoid branches of Paul. Eric Kayser is another chain of French patisseries very much in the same mould as Paul – but it doesn't have the snobbery that seems inherent with Paul branches in Bangkok. And prices at Eric Kayser are really not a lot higher than what you pay at Au Bon Pain – so if you're looking for great coffee, croissants, cakes or sandwiches – plus a good few meal options – consider the one and only branch of Eric Kayser in Bangkok on Soi Thonglor, about a 5-minute walk up from Sukhumvit Road, directly opposite the Krung Sri Bank.
If you're sitting at the window at the back of the food court at Terminal 21 on the 5th floor, enjoying the view, but feel deceptively high, your mind is not playing tricks on you. What is termed the 5th floor at Terminal 21 is at the same height as the 12th floor of condos in the area.
The underground station at Sukhumvit (which more or less intersects with the skytrain at Asoke) is busy for much of the day, and bedlam at peak hour as thousands of office workers from the area flood the platform at home time. The vast majority at the Sukhumvit station are heading north i.e. in the direction of Rama 9 and beyond and on that side of the platform the queues are just crazy. The platforms at Bangkok's underground stations are not that big and with the sheer number of people using the system at peak hour, it can take a number of trains before passengers get to the front of the queue and can board. So what some clever folks do is get a train heading south i.e. in the opposite direction, go one stop to the Queen Sirikit station, jump off the train, cross the platform and get a train going back in the other direction. Doing that is definitely quicker than waiting at Sukhumvit at peak hour!
Quote of the week, "I was sitting in Triangle Bar in Pattaya when a mate comes in with a pretty young thing hand in hand and announces 'I would like you to meet my future ex wife'."
Reader's story of the week comes from Mega, "Around The Traps in South-East Asia Part 2".
Thailand is striving to eradicate piracy and the sale of pirated movies / software etc in the country.
Is the attitude of the Thai authorities and, in some cases the population, driving visitors away?
A hot Uzbek babe working as a receptionist at a luxurious Thailand resort is arrested for an alleged part in cyber crimes.
The Thai government is proposing a special class of SIM card for foreign tourists so it can trace them!
The Bangkok Post reports that the computer shopping mall Panthip Plaza will this week be rebranded as Tech Life Mall.
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: A friend of mine worked in Thailand for 5 years and recently told me how he got what I think was a refund on the social fund contributions his employer made throughout his employment. He told me that he went along to an office (I am not sure if this is the tax office, the labour office or something else) and he was given the option of being paid a lump sum in cash or monthly payments over a period of time. He is 60 years old so I am not sure if his age had anything to do with him being paid out i.e. he is of retirement age. I worked in Thailand legally for a number of years before moving back home in 2009. Am I entitled to a refund of my social fund contributions? Note: I am currently in Thailand on holiday and am neither 60 nor will I ever work here again. Any help you can provide to help me understand the money that was returned to my friend and how that might apply to me or others who have worked in Thailand would be gratefully received!
Sunbelt Legal responds: The Social Security Act allows for the issuance of benefits for seven main reasons:
(1) injury or sickness benefits;
(2) maternity benefits;
(3) invalidity benefits;
(4) death benefits;
(5) child benefits;
(6) old-age benefits;
(7) unemployment benefits except for an insured person under section 39.
Your friend received his benefits due to the criteria under Chapter 7 section 76 of the Social Fund Act:
An insured person shall be entitled to old-age benefits provided that such person has paid contributions for a period of not less than one hundred and eighty months irrespective of whether the period of contribution is consecutive or not.
Old – age benefits shall consist of :
(1) monthly allowance namely “Superannuation Pension” ; or
(2) lump sum allowance namely “Superannuation Gratuity”
The above mentioned allowance shall be in accordance with the rules, procedure, period and rate prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations.
Section 77 bis. 41:
In the case where an insured person has paid contributions for a period of not less than one hundred and eighty months, such person shall be entitled to old – age benefits as from the month following the month which he or she has reached the age of fifty five, except at such time the said person is continually being an insured person under section 38 or section 41, he or she shall be entitled to old-age benefit as from the month following the month his or her insurance is terminated.
If you are over the age of 55 then you may be able to claim your funds, if not then you would not be able to lay a claim..
Question 2: My Thai wife is a tour guide who is fluent in several Chinese languages. At the moment she is working for other companies but plans to branch out on her own shortly. I understand tour guides must only be Thai. My query is can a non Thai run a tour guide business if four Thais are employed or does the protection of the industry cover all aspects. My role would only be administrative. Also, can my wife be counted as one of the 4 employees?
Sunbelt Legal responds: It is possible to establish a Thai Limited Company of which you have a minority share i.e. the Thai shareholders must hold 51%. However, if you apply for a license to operate a tour business then you must have a Thai director. For example, your wife can be the director and apply for the licenses but she would not count as one of the four required Thai employees for you to also obtain a work permit.
Alternatively, your wife could be one of the four Thai employees but the company would still need a Thai director. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has an experienced team that can assist you in setting up the company legally and in compliance with all regulations as well as assist in obtaining the necessary licenses, please get in touch for a free initial consultation.
I appreciate being tipped off about news, parties, events, promotions etc.
I appreciate all the bits and bobs you send through about what is happening around about. The official publication time for this column is 6 PM Sunday, Thailand time, but I almost always publish well before then. To venue managers and owners, if you would like me to mention any special promotions, party, event or anything newsworthy from your venue, please note there is now a new strict cut-off time for newsbytes of 9 AM Sunday, Thailand time. Anything received after that time will not make the column. The updated version of this site is finally about to be launched and I will not be the one uploading the files or doing any of that side of things hence the new deadline for news and gossip.