2015 - The year in multimedia and other fun stuff


2015 - The year in multimedia and other fun stuff

As is traditional here are some highlights from the cultural universe in 2015


I've become slightly obsessed with Tim Kreider, but I only got his awesome book of Essays - We Learn Nothing in 2016. But it all started here with The Summer that Never Was - a sumptuous meditation on summer. Get that audiobook too, it's seriously great, possibly the best on this list. 

An essay you can taste: How to grieve with Challah bread

Movies of the year:

Force  Majeure / Overnighters / Me Earl and the Dying Girl / Whiplash / Lost Gold of the Highlands / Citizen Four / Mad Max


Master of None - great stuff from Aziz Ansari, thoughtful, inspiring, diverse, odd. More of this please.

Short Films

Daylight Savings time - this is a smart fun one. 

360 degree bike ride this is real trippy and I basically just want to live in this universe...

We walk together: a Syrian family’s journey to the heart of Europe – Powerful snapshot from the Refugee Crises. I've never seen Shakespeare spoken with more intensity than the gentleman at the end. 

Great creativity on show here, incredible Chatroulette first person shooter 

Terry Gilliam on Stop Motion animation - not new, but one of the most inspiring from last year.


This is such a fun fresh sumptuous music video 

Radio/Podcasts -

Another year where I mostly listened to podcasts over all other media. Here are some classic episodes from this years favourites:

Love + Radio still killing it with the strange stories of life...

Mystery Show - meet and love Hans Jordy

Everything is stories - Joining Forrest Fenn on a real life Treasure Hunt.

Tape Radio - if you like podcasts about podcasts... 

This American Life - I'm enjoying having a bath and listening to great episodes of TAL. I really liked these two - The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar and The House on Loon Lake

Snap Judgement - Storytelling with a beat. Here are the host Glynn Washington's top 5 episodes, they are all great 

Invisibilia on Fear

Longform - interviews with makers


We are all completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler /// So You've Been Publicly Shamed Jon Ronson


Books - Summer book Tove Jansson - beautiful book, made me want to go and live on a scandinavian Island - always the sign of a good book.

The Water Book - Alok Jha - Water is a big deal, this lovely science book takes us through hard science via philosophy which is always my favourite route. 

Death of Ivan Ilyich - Leo Tolstoy, intense, not exactly a new release, but a claustrophobic belter.


Mac Demarco - love this instrumental album and it's free for some reason, but his albums are all cool so buy them too.

Some enjoyable YouTube comment nonsense on the video too.

Midnight in a perfect world Ben Gibbard DJ mix

Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear

Beautiful music session on a (quiet) electric bus. Great idea which sells the concept, and tells the story... Seinabo Sey - Younger

Moon Hooch More of this needs to exist in the universe


In the Dark Radio was great this year, radio listening events are few and far between, look forward to more soon. Bar Shorts film night is a great source of inspiring films, Tree the play by Daniel Kitson and Tim Key was ace. Rhymes with Orange for amazing poetry as usual.

Really enjoyed Emily Haworth-Booth's awesome comic book drawing course. I am the worst at drawing, but found it really fun, and helpful, definite recommendation if you're in London.


Cycling around Europe. Spent a month doing this and it is just the best. If I was 18 I would just take the whole summer off and cycle as far as possible. People are so nice to you when you are a weird foreigner on a bike in an inexplicable part of Germany.

Staying in the woods, in shepherds huts in the middle of Winter in Dorking is so great, these guys are really lovely at the Green Escape.


As per usual in recent years, I haven't discovered enough new music/ read enough books/ listened to enough Audiobooks so please do send recommendations if you have any.


Here's to 2016!



2014 - The Year in multimedia and stupid/ly awesome things.

Sort of one for 2015/2016/2047... BUT you can send yourself an email from the Future, cool.... Futureme.org

2014 has been the year of the podcast, Serial stole the headlines and is well worth gorging on, but the Radiotopia group of podcasts is my tip for 2015. They raised $620,000 on Kickstarter. People want to support awesome stuff, and there are increasing mechanisms to do it. Here are my favourite audio picks. No media vehicle takes me away more, so download and disappear into another world for a bit.

Best Podcasts of 2014 (with link to a favourite sample episode)

Strangers - stories of the spaces in-between the people we know.

The Organist - Irreverent. To the point. Like having your best self in an ace conversation.

Short Cuts - collections of themed mind-trips.

99% Invisible - Design for life.

Unfictional - Curated short documentaries, always strange.

Comedy Bang Bang - Improvised insanity.

You Made it Weird - This interview with Harris Wittels is compelling, sex drugs and scientology.

Analyze Phish - improvised ridiculousness, one man who loves the band Phish must win over the haters. Ace.

The Listening Project - Radio4 collaboration with the British Library, often tear jearking, soul tickling.

My personal favourite show is Love and Radio. It challenges, engages, trips out, and takes you away more than any other media I've consumed this year.

I also love the interviews from Storycorps, where friends, family, strangers thrust together interview each other, this thing makes me cry quite often. Check out an example. I just wish the podcast was longer! This animated version has so many feels.

Other individual bits of audio that stopped me in my tracks

Lessons from the mosh pit - Joe Dunthornehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01m176r writer of ace book Submarine takes us back to the mosh pit, and the life lessons we never knew we learned there.

This David Bowie retrospective by Adam Buxton was funny, broad-ranging and brought me into Bowie's world, like an undeniable enthusiastic chat-tirade with a fun buddy. 

The Real Tom Banks - ace use of audio.

Cool Jesse Thorn interview with Jason Schwartzmann #mancrush

Brilliant Documentaries I watched this year

  • Murder on a Sunday Morning
  • King of Kong
  • The Internet's Own Boy 
  • Best Worst Movie
  • All This Mayhem
  • Attacking The Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime

This documentary is the saddest thing, pretty incredible story, well worth a watch. Dear Zachary: A letter to a son about his father. Don't read too much about it, just watch it with some tissues and I'm sure you'll come out stronger.

Here are my pick of films released in 2014

  • Boyhood
  • Her*
  • Locke
  • Calvary
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Nebraska

*Here is a 'Her' bonus fun fact. The real star of the film turns out to be Joaquin Phoenix's forehead. Whoever noticed this is a genius and wins the internet this year. Great work guys.

Egon Schiele Exhibition Radical Nudes, controversy and skills.

Egon Schiele Exhibition Radical Nudes, controversy and skills.

Tweets of the year

Some very interesting stuff on speaking to friends with depression. Some very practical tips. Depression is a right arse but I think this makes complete sense to me. Something to work on in 2015.

Random extras

Grayson Perry 'Who Are You'- Great TV series, accessible art programming, not patronising, not pretentious, more please.

Humans of New York on the Facebook - One thing that has consistently challenged stereotypes, glimpses into people's lives that illuminate and don't define. Great to see so many empathetic comments on Facebook. One of my favourite internet spaces of the year.

This is how I want to live my life gif

Ace, easy vegan food recipe of the year: I give you creamy avocado pasta - KABOOM.

Set aside 20 minutes and 'play'/explore this interactive world. The future is more of this probably 'Bear 71'

Without irony, I love this 80's classic from the underappreciated 'Christian Ska' genre:

These football fans are doing it right. Their team hadn't scored in so long, they decided to help out...

Poem of the year - Grandma's Philosophy - Steven Duncan

'Google's answer is, wake up, grandpa, this is the new normal. But all they're doing is trying to port a bug in the Internet over to the real world, and calling it progress.' - Thought provoking words and silly images, great combination.

Interesting Saturday reading on the ambiguity in pursuing happiness and meaning.

Beautifully made short film MR X.

Had a great time bodging in Abney Park Cemetery, make your own spoon for £5 awesome fun.

The Rhymes with Orange Poetry Night and retreats - awesome fun, get involved.

Book highlights (haven't read much this year which is pretty shameful. Please send good book recommendations for this year in the comments) THANKS.

  • Brave New World
  • Death of Ivan Ilych
  • The Lost Daughter
  • Things Fall Apart

Thanks for checking out the blog. I'm up for making things like the above in 2015 so if you're interested in collaborating, or have some money you want to get rid of, get in touch.

Send me cool stuff you've liked too in the comments below. I've neglected books and music this year. PEACE and 2015 let's do it.

Some snaps from this year



2013 Culture Badger review of the year 2013 - @ThomHoffman

Time to review all the tweets, status updates, photos, saved links, and occasionally things in my own stupid mind to unearth those things that I saw this year that, on reflection, still made an impact.

Let’s start with some music, you can play along at home.

I love Soundcloud mixes, here are a few you can select from

Big Deal ID Magazine Slumber Session:

Fleetwood Mac Disco Remix [sounds weird but is amazing]:

Julianna Barwick: Soaring Folk

Laura Marling - When Brave Bird Saved - Beautiful film to accompany her latest album Once I Was an Eagle

So let's begin

Firstly this is the greatest thing I saw all year in the West Hampstead Library. I didn't know we could do this!

Before [During] there was Kickstarter
Before [During] there was Kickstarter

I hope this INTERNET INNOVATOR/SONGWRITER/POET got the sponsorship they were looking for. It's quite beautiful in a lot of ways. If you are a millionaire you could probably do a lot worse than invest some there.

There’s been some pretty tough times this year, and some people aren’t here that should be. This beautiful, heartwrenching blog written by Ben, a father and widower, who lost his wife in a freak car accident at the start of the year really resonated with me. It’s tough out there, let’s look after each other:


Despite being a vegetarian, somehow I can still find time for the joy in stuffed animals.

'Artist Does Jail Time over Disturbing Taxidermy' -

But I think I prefer Digital animal mashups 


5 Pointz, this back street in Queens NY used to be home to some incredible street art, but now is just a beige lot. It’s a real shame, but I’m glad I got to see it. I think you appreciate street art more when you are away from home. http://www.flickr.com/photos/49103930@N03/10846328644/

5 Pointz
5 Pointz

Art/Taste/Graffiti, some of it is breathtaking. Herakut are a duo of artists who blew my mind this year. and their photos decorate my desktop and raise me up.

When we let go of our Fears we are Safe
When we let go of our Fears we are Safe

Some walls aren’t walls.

Herakut - http://herakut.tumblr.com/

I also want to live in a block with the externals designed by this guy. http://www.agostinoiacurci.com/beardwatching/

I massively enjoyed this picture of a monkey drinking milk 

Best Bands/shows of the year

  • Big Deal
  • Paws
  • Finch playing their classic album What It Is to Burn in its entirety
  • The Postal Service
  • Cribs
  • Secret Garden Party
  • Basia Bulat
  • Adam Buxton’s Best of Bug shows - ACE



I Know It’s Over [Smiths Cover] - Jeff Buckley ALL I WANT TO DO IS CRY

One hell of a session TuneYards Bizness


The Act of Killing - The absolute best film of the year, possibly the greatest film I’ve seen maybe. Just watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD5oMxbMcHM

Nebraska, Safety Not Guaranteed, Untouchable, Best Worst Movie, 5 Broken Cameras

I was particularly intrigued by this short[ish] film by Werner Herzog. It’s a kind of public information film/documentary about texting and driving. Really moving. An important reminder to just not do it. That shit can wait.

I wrote a more expansive film review whilst I had a life-threatening cold in November, you can read it here

I really enjoyed this 19 second film of Bill Gates jumping over a chair


I avoided for a while, and then devoured, Analyze Phish; a somewhat weird podcast where someone who loves the band Phish tries to persuade some who doesn’t like the band Phish to like the band Phish.

This is a classic episode #7 yeah that’s right #7 and they’re still going http://www.earwolf.com/episode/a-crazy-moment-in-phishtory/

That is a spinoff of Comedy Bang Bang, still consistently the podcast I consume most voraciously

A good starter episode from the year is The Vicar of Yanks, featuring  'Weird' Al Yankovic and Paul F Tompkins as Andrew Lloyd Webber, what more could you want?  - http://www.earwolf.com/episode/the-vicar-of-yanks/

You can buy a load of live shows that were really funny for a mere $25 well worth it http://store.earwolf.com/products/comedy-bang-bang-live-2013-tour


Glad to hear Russell Brand’s [and more saliently Matt Morgan’s] radio comeback this year, you can buy it here and it’s all for charity, so you can feel warm and whatnot.

I was psyched to hear some progressive production values stuff on BBC  this year including Jarvis Cocker’s Wireless Nights, and Josie Long’s Short Cuts. These shows have a lot of fun with the medium and are an excellent addition to the more traditional Radio4 stuff.

More trad/modern BBC crossover came up with the first transvestite potter to give the BBC’s prestigious Reith Lectures. Grayson Perry did Lord Reith proud, Informing, Educating, Entertaining and I’d add Inspiring. Let’s do a painting or something.

Speaking of art here are two superb films I stumbled upon this year.

A Brief History of John Baldessari -

A film about an artist who paints on kitchen roll [it’s better than it sounds] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOXERZBUA1A

It is often said that ‘the enemy of the artist is the pram in the hallway’ I guess this post says different. Kids are tiny little people you can make do things. What could lead to more creativity? Scientists experiment on their kids all the time! Art learn something from science why don’t ya… This mother has nailed it.


This guy gets the Thom Hoffman Man of the Year award. That is some grade A spectating. http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/enhanced/web04/2012/4/12/13/enhanced-buzz-8465-1334250956-87.jpg


When searching for Christmas presents, this was the worst thing I’ve seen. I mean why? http://etsy.me/KKBqAn

Of all the articles that made me want to move to Uruguay in 2013, this was undoubtedly the best, The president sounds great. http://t.co/heDiKx6G9L

This Dog Vine of course, just of course https://vine.co/v/bJqjVjdqMQ7

Kid President bloody nails it again. 20 Things we should say more often.


I joined two book clubs this year, to varying degrees of success. I really recommend a bookclub it’s great. My favourite books this year were

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino: One of the best books I’ve ever read, just blew me away, took me away, kind of changed what I thought books could do. Have recommended to lots of people and this has very much split the room...

Notes from the underground - Fyodor Dostoevsky: I read this on a slightly doomed trip to Leeds and I was left harrowed by the experience. Great though, the ultimate manifestation of a scary manvoice that lives in your head, right guys? Guys? Right?

The Beating of his Wings - Paul Hoffman [NO NEPOTISM ALERT KLAXON] Final chapter in the Left Hand of God trilogy. Art. End of an erar.

Unreasonable Behaviour - Don McCullin: spectacular book that chronicles the brutal existence of the war photographer, photojournalist, family man. Fantastic meditation on humanity/art/intervention. There’s a great Storyville documentary on Don, it’s worth digging out if you can find it.

How Proust Can Change Your Life - Alain De Botton: What we can learn from Proust’s unique view on the world. Every few pages is a beautiful thought, or twist of phrase. I bought it from a second hand bookshop in Brixton that has a dog, there’s a nice film of it here

There’s a nice short story called The Critics which can be read here - http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/05/the-critics/309276/?single_page=true

I enjoyed this soap opera filmed in branches of Ikea without permission. Life should be about 80% more this type of thing. 7 episodes, enjoy

This video had a real punch to it. Let’s all use less crap we don’t need in 2014 http://www.upworthy.com/people-should-know-about-this-awful-thing-we-do-and-most-of-us-are-simply-unaware


This guys photography is good https://plus.google.com/photos/+AddeAdesokan/albums/5632530795735286625/5648918287947725346?cfem=1

ALWAYS BE SQUINCHING. This went down pretty well, some good tips for posing for photos. It sounds a bit wanky, but it’s actually good.




I loved the overnight ferry between England and Holland with my bicycle


I loved the view from the highest place I’ve ever been



I loved the Pet Pride march in San Francisco




Tweets of the year

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Thom Hoffman's Flu Movie Review

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Thom Hoffman's Flu Movie Review

I had a bad cold/virussey thing this week, on the back of travelling for a month, I've had time to watch all of the films. I love good films, but hate wasting time on bad ones, and have usually had my fill of looking at glowing rectangle screens for work. Anyway here is my flu movie review. There may be 3-4 of these annually, but do not seek a doctor for minor side effects.

American Movie

A documentary about a filmmaker who is a bit of a social misfit, trying to finish his projects and come to terms with the hands he's been dealt, and the cards he's thrown on the floor, and occasionally set fire to. It's kind of heart-warming, but with slightly sinister overtones.

I'm also kind of in love with his friend Mike, who is a great cinematic character, genuinely loveable and probably a very good warning on why you should not do all of the drugs.

It's good for demonstrating the role of creating art in curing, and causing many psychological problems.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

This is another documentary with slightly less blurred lines between creative expression and mental health. Daniel Johnston is a folk musician and artist, who first caught my ear upon hearing his particularlarly weird, haunting, catchy, cute songs of love, hope and despair.

I've always loved music that comes from the heart, and creative expression that reaches past production values and just kicks you in the soul. His crackly vocals, might not win a singing contest, but that leaves the other expressive elements a gap to fight their way in to.

This is not a sentimental view of mental health problems either, you see the effect on Daniel, and his family as his irrational behaviour takes over. Including when having a paranoid manic episode he runs up to confront a lady who has been shouting at him from her apartment, the lady subsequently jumps out of a second floor window, breaking both her ankles.

The tragedy of mental health problems, the ups and downs that occupy any artistic career are amplified hugely and the portrait painted in this documentary is complex, and thought provoking, whilst soundtracked, and filled with Daniel's music and art.

The Great Hip-Hop Hoax: Silibil n' Brains

Little known to me until watching this documentary, I had a sticker of hip hop group Silibil n' Brains on the back of my guitar from the early noughties. I wonder what stage of their journey I would've found this sticker, during the height of the hype, or when they were on the way down with a lot of stickers to get rid of and no record released...

It's a great story about two scottish rappers from Dundee, who tried to make it in London only to be dismissed as the rapping proclaimers. Hurt and pissed off that they were not being taken seriously, they decided to adopt new accents, move south of the border and try and blag it as Californian skate punk rappers. Within a couple of weeks they'd gone from sleeping on their sister's floor, to having a flat paid for and access to a huge advance with studios to record in. It seemed too good to be true, and it was a lie, but no-one realised...

The story of how this happened, the consequences, the ironic beauty of beating a music industry at it's own game, is weighed with the strains on a friendship and the issues or pretending to be something you're not all the time. Great documentary that Storyville picked up. Well worth watching if you get a chance.


The music theme continued with this very different film which is kind of a mumblecore, naturalistic romantic comedy musical type film. I watched this on my laptop on the Megabus going from Washington to New York so was pretty keen for some escapism. It's a very cute film, with some great music.

I first saw Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform on one of NPR's fantastic tiny desk concert sessions, and the powerful raw vocals, and dense guitar work really blew me away.

They seemed like funny cool guys too. They are not actors and this kind of shows through, though predominantly in a good way. Handheld cameras, handheld performance and realistic dialogue ensure this never veers to far into saccharine territory, and just comes across as a life affirming, sweet film, that avoids cliche enough and showcases their excellent musicianship.

Sleepwalk with Me

NPR have their hand in this movie too as it's produced by Ira Glass of This American Life fame. It's the, seemingly true to life, story of comedian Mike Birbiglia and his travails with forging a career in comedy, and a career in life. Naturalistic acting comes across here too, it's a very cute film, worth seeking out, though probably don't watch it with your partner if your relationship is a little on the rocks. Maybe watch Once instead.


This film had great reviews this year, so I bought it on itunes. The front cover and the poster make it look like the worst film in all of human history, a young black guy is skipping, pushing, an older white man in a wheelchair down a hill with paragliders in the background. I can see how the marketing department had a tough job, as one of this films strengths is avoiding the typical, refusing to be captured too simplistically, which ain't so great for posters. This film cheered me up a great deal, it's a bit cheesy, but not too much that it's annoying. Hollywood, I know you're reading this, take note. This can be done.

5 Broken Cameras

Finally as my weekend of staying in and recovering drew to a close I watched 5 Broken Cameras, a fascinating documentary about Israel/Palestine and the West Bank, as shot through a demonstrator's eyes, and several of his cameras. You are engrossed from the first minute. This film has got you. The device of telling the story through each of his cameras as they degrade, get shot at, and damaged, lends itself a great narrative arc. It leaves you feeling moved, angry, and impressed with non-violent resistance in the face of overt aggression. It's pretty hard to imagine what you would do in this situation, as a filmmaker myself, it was a choice for me. For Emad, this is his route to salvation, his way of taking power back, and protecting himself against external forces and the reality of his situation. When you have no control, it's easy to become hopeless or hostile. When someone breaks your first camera, it's easy to give up or react to the provocation. Who can say what we would've done in his situation. It's clearly a complex area, but you should really watch this film, it will make you want to understand more.

The humble Braggs and X-ray crystallography: Solving the patterns of matter

Lastly is a shout for a film I watched about 30 times this month, because I made it. It's a little hard for me to tell how good this is, probably have to look at it again in a year when I have some distance. It's gone down really well though, and thanks to everone who tweeted it and shared it around, it means a lot.

One Youtube comment says 'I've seldom seen a more boring documentary about such a most remarkable person! Shame on you for wasting 9 minutes on this botched up "whatshallwecallit".'

ouch, but the person who wrote it, only seems to like Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares.

So I'll be taking that as a compliment.

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Into The Wild


Into The Wild

Two weeks before I was due to fly to the Himalayas, I found myself sat in the Royal Free hospital in North London with 1st and 2nd degree burns on 7 of my fingers, stinking of smoke and burnt plastic, with my hands in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. My mind began flitting between thoughts of pain, and guilt, and constantly back to anxiety as to how I’d somehow managed to get into this insane situation, and whether my mountain adventure was now over, a fortnight before it was due to start. My laptop charger overheated and set fire to various parts of my bedroom, fortunately I was upstairs at the time and eventually the aforementioned gross burning smell attracted my attention. I managed to stop the fire before burning down the whole house. Unfortunately my hands got burnt in the process.

I thought the trip would be off.

Well I could've done without this...

Well I could've done without this...

Fortunately all of the doctors and nurses I saw were incredibly helpful, I avoided anything likely to give me an infection and, I managed make enough of a recovery, just about in time.

So I made it to the plane, and into another series of unknowns. The highest altitude I’d done before was probably somewhere near Watford. The trip had been kind of last minute and the fire had reduced any ‘worry time’ as I had to deal with the array of overwhelming logistics involved in filming in a dusty, hot, freezing, dark, bright, electricity-starved environment. Basically buying tons of equipment, and consulting Dr Google for advice.

I was headed out to document a research project called Xtreme Everest 2. A study taking healthy volunteers on a trek up to Everest Base Camp, testing them all along the way, and seeing how they reacted to the differing altitude and the ever-decreasing availability of oxygen.

The mountains

The mountains

The mountains are useful for research because the low oxygen levels that are normal up here mimic a problem faced by thousands of people in intensive care back down at sea level. If the house fire had gone on for 15 more minutes the smoke inhalation could have seen me hitting dangerously low levels of oxygen myself.

The plane ride into the terrifyingly tiny landing strip at the foot of the mountains was probably when I started to realise just how alien this was going to be. As I filmed on the tiny, shaky, Yeti airline plane I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the outside world. Normally this diversion from the present is my least favourite thing about filming, but this time I was grateful for the distraction. I’m not a delighted flyer. Despite having a Masters in Science [however tenuous] I still don’t really trust that aeroplanes can actually work, it doesn’t seem right does it?



We hit the tiny runway and didn’t crash into the mountain at the end of it, no more motorized movement for a month.

As I went to bounce excitedly up the steps outside Lukla airport I was suddenly hit by how tiny my lungs seemed to have become. It wasn’t like I was feeling particularly tired, I just was conscious of every step I made. Walking was suddenly a ‘thing’.

A friend who has Rheumatoid arthritis mentioned how she feels like she has ‘tokens’ of energy that she can use each day. If she wants to cook a big meal, then that’s her

token used up so she can’t go out that night, or go swimming as she’ll be using tomorrow’s token, leaving her unable to get out of bed in the morning. It kind of hit home to me, how dependent I was on my physiology. I still had to go 3000m higher and I was feeling it already.

My favourite photo from the whole trip

My favourite photo from the whole trip



The second night in, I began to notice it affecting my brain too. Words don’t come to you so easily. Even having conversations with people becomes difficult as thinking guzzles your precious oxygen. My chat usually gets me in and out of most problems each day, but it was in short supply.

I guess I was acclimatising because eventually this stopped being quite so noticeable. I think I understood what I was capable of, how many tokens I had,and just scaled down my ambitions to suit that. You literally can’t do what you would at sea level. I’m used to working a full day with coffee and inhaled pollution for sustenance when a difficult shoot is at stake. But up there it’s impossible. The difficulty of lugging heavy camera gear around, constantly thinking, and concentrating on filming in a bastard awkward environment takes a big toll. But once you’ve adapted to what your abilities are, as long as you live within those and take it slow, you cope.

Filming was hard. It’s a ridiculously difficult environment, but I’ll probably write a whole post about that another time….

We stayed in tea houses which are basically wooden hut type things, they are very basic, but pretty comfortable and way better than sleeping in a tent. My ridiculously huge sleeping bag kept me warm and I found I slept really well on the mountain.

One hut in Dingboche was covered in flies which doesn’t fill you with confidence, and pretty soon sickness came to our group. But it did mean I could take this cool photo of a fly attacking a mountain, so it’s swings and roundabouts.



I went up to Loboche Pass which is the memorial for all those who have died attempting to summit Everest. It was a spooky place, hundreds of piles of stones and prayer flags commemorating the dead. It becomes clear that the higher and higher up the mountain you go the better the view gets. I’d never understood why you’d want to climb Everest, but looking up at these incredible peaks, I could comprehend it marginally more. The desire to stand at the top of the world is pretty powerful once it gets in your head. Despite this, the whole trip, I never once felt like I would ever want to try and summit Everest. Crazy people.



I got to climb one mountain called Kala Patthar. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. There was a realistic chance I could have died, clambering to the summit over a tangled web of decaying prayer flags, with absolute certain death on my left if I tripped or got caught by a gust of wind. It was incredible. Here is a photo of me on the summit and my eyes are half closed and I look stoned.



It’s something like being on drugs [I would guess] it’s not reality, your body is firing at your mind, grasping, and failing, to deal with where you are and how you should feel about it. I made a quick film whilst on top…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr2c4xFwPfc&w=640&h=360]

I felt changed as I walked down. Then I realised I’d left a glove somewhere half way down on a rock and it struck me that I probably hadn’t changed too much.

This is a photo of me after walking for two hours and discovering my room key from the previous night’s lodge. Fortunately my Sherpa Passang just handed it to the next guy coming down who laughed at me, and took it down the mountain with him. This probably sums up my entire experience with the Nepalese people. Fun, cheeky, friendly, and so keen to help.



As we reached Everest Base Camp I was feeling really strong, I was in good shape, still hadn’t taken as much as a paracetemol in the preceding 20 days. Having said that I drank a lot of Tang, which is a kind of fruity sugar powder, and I think contains all the drugs, and is highly illegal in most continents.

Sleeping on ice is strange,



This looks pretty uncomfortable but when you’re exhausted you tend to sleep pretty well. The guys at Base Camp have an incredible set up. There are no solid structures up there, only tents, fancy tents, I’ll give them that, but it’s such hard work being up there. They are there doing research in this environment for up to 3 months at a time.

One Sherpa carried an exercise bike up the mountain on his back. That made me feel less proud of my achievement of making it there. It reminded me of the time I got overtaken by a man dressed as bee in the Swindon half marathon.

The people I got to hang out with on the trip were so ace. It was great to get to know my two working buddies really well, we didn't argue [much], and I learned a lot from them. Spending a month with people, and within a culture, makes it impossible for you not be to be influenced by both. All the volunteers on the trip were there because they really cared about the science. You speak to one person, they are part time doctor/part time mountain rescuer, doing this in there holiday time. You had nurses, doctors, scientists, and ambitious students. They were a fun bunch of people. It made me want to get involved in these things more often. I’m pretty outdoorsy, but considering I’ve lived in the UK forever, and not climbed Snowdon or Ben Nevis, been to the highlands, or the New Forest is borderline criminal, if the people who do it are as cool as the guys I met on Everest, then it’s a no brainer. Think how fun we would all be with 50% extra oxygen to play with. Eventually we would find out when we got back to Kathmandu after a month in the mountains, it was pretty nuts. They were even nicer and more fun, we all smelled better when we got back to bricks, mortar, cars, and rum.





I felt like I needed more acclimatisation going from the sparse mountains to insanity of Kathmandu than I did going up to Base Camp. Everything was fast, polluted, and noisy. I still found the locals to be super friendly, not the kind of hassle I expected before I got there.

I would love to go back to Nepal, it was my first proper travel trip and I need to do it more. My rucksack that was with me every day for a month looks empty, and depressed in the attic, but we will ride again.



I’m really grateful for Greg Foot taking a gamble of bringing me out with him. I think we’ve made some great content. Below is a film I edited from the footage shot up the mountain. I hope you like it.

For more on the science and the insanity of working at Base Camp check out our film on the Guardian and Ri Channel:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=watch?v=tovsOiSvZ_c&w=560&h=315] Watch the full video with photos here: http://www.richannel.org/xtreme-everest

I should probably shave my moustache and terrible beard off now.

Not quite yet though. But maybe soon.

I tried to read ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’ by Italo Calvino on the mountain, but it was so mind melting that I literally couldn’t cope [This also happened when I tried to watch Looper on the flight on the way home]

I read it on the way home and it changed me; probably almost as much as going up that mountain, read it. It’s cheaper than a month expedition to Everest.

Let’s go on an ADVENTURE again soon yeah?

Some good links:

Greg Foot's Website [including links to a schools science show tour based on the adventure]:

Jenna Wiley's Blog - Detailing one of the volunteers adventures in travelling and science

Some badass Tweeter's from the trip

Greg - @GregFoot

Emily - @ejghio

Nick - @NickInsley22

Jenna - @wilesjm

and me too if you like @thomhoffman




Meat-Free Mondays and Tuesdays


Meat-Free Mondays and Tuesdays

This isn't a very good photo, but you get the point

This isn't a very good photo, but you get the point


This year I did a New Year’s Resolution, I can’t remember ever having done one before. Usually it’s something like write a novel, or get ripped abs by Summer. Then, Summer is two hot weeks in May and my schedule is all out of whack, my abs remain unripped, and my novel remains unfinished [Though I have the title – the Thommunist Hoffmanifesto].

Cognitive Dissonance is the psychologist’s term for the uncomfortable gap between what we know we should do and what we actually do do, and this spreads across all our lives. Phoning our family, drinking too much, failing to exercise enough, give to charity… the list is long. I fail at all of these things. I guess it always feels like there’s another day to do them and so they don’t happen enough.

One thing that struck me last year was how difficult it is to ignore the harmful effect of eating meat. Whichever way you add it up, meat is pretty bad for the environment. It is tasty, correct, but the memory of taste doesn’t linger very long, and my growing unease with meat has been getting stronger.

I decided full-on vegetarianism would be a bit of a stretch for me, but I wanted to shift my relationship with meat. I had heard of Meat free Mondays, but that sounded a bit too easy, so I decided I would do ‘Meat free Mondays and Tuesdays’.

As this has come up in conversation over the year, I’ve been surprised by how people’s reactions vary. Some people think this is the easiest thing ever, and some people think it’s almost impossible. It goes to show how our relationships with food are so ingrained.

This was a challenge to that ingrained nature. When it comes to making decisions we are often driven by our unconscious, meaning that things like habit and taste have a disproportionate effect on our decision making, compared to longer term health, wellbeing, or social implications.

I wanted to pick two specific days because just picking any two days of the week seemed like I would still be being guided by my own tastes. I wanted to disrupt that a bit. Put myself in situations and experience them as a vegetarian. If I went to a dinner party I have to do the vegetarian thing, BBQ, I’m having some mushrooms. And finally… What is the last Tuesday of the year…? I looked it up in around August, it was Christmas…

Vegetarian Christmas Dinner

Vegetarian Christmas Dinner

It was a great meal, and it’s fine to do it without meat, not a big sacrifice at all.

My Tips are: stock up on chickpeas and lentils, super easy to cook. Vegetable curries are ace. Mushrooms are THE BEST things, and eat a lot of soup. Homemade soup is off the hook tasty and very cheap. Develop an obsession with falafel.

I think there is something intrinsically interesting about actively fighting your normal patterns of behaviour and ‘forcing’ yourself to make positive choices that bridge the gap towards the person you like being. It really isn't a big sacrifice, but it's a small thing thats had a long-term difference I'm really glad I did it.

It’s hard to see how anything bad could come from this. I would recommend it as an experiment to everyone. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do for 2013, apart from write my novel, learn Swedish and get some sweet ripped guns, but my relationship with meat is better in 2013 than it was in 2011.

Happy New Year,

‘Change the things I can, accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.’

*I did accidentally eat chicken soup on a Monday after I’d been in bed ill for 5 days and lost track of what day it was.  Initially I was really annoyed that I’d failed my challenge, but I traded it off with no meat for the rest of the week.

** I think I ate some chicken crisps on New Year’s Eve

***Here is a good recipe for a Mushroom Ale and Lentil Pie mmm http://allotment2kitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/mushroom-puy-lentils-and-ale-pie.html




Best of 2012 - End of the Year List on Culture Badger


Best of 2012 - End of the Year List on Culture Badger

Time to review the year, what have we been up, what do we like, what might you have missed? I invented the adverb Douchebaggely

I made a party playlist so you can listen to that if you need something in your ears... http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/PARTAYB/80469422

2012 was the year Culture Badger went semi-freelance as a film maker, which means half of the time things are manic, and half the time I'm doing some epic PROcrastination so here is what I've found that's made my life better this year...



CLASSIC TOP OF THE POPS - This is just dynamite


My soul melted a bit listening to this album of songs and stories, detailing heartbreak, tall tales, and moving on. Daniel Kitson and Gavin Osborn - Ballad of Roger and Grace, MORE  STUFF LIKE THIS PLEASE MRS INTERNET. That can be yours for £2.50 on Bandcamp 



Goats mushrooms
Goats mushrooms

One of the Best things I saw this year - Chat Roulette Carly Rae Jepsen, man in bikini and weird faces


Closely followed by Sexy Sax Man...

This really stopped me in my tracks. John Hockenberry on disability, attitudes, confidence, ownership and getting involved.

Isak Densen
Isak Densen

the cure for anything is salt water. sweat, tears, or the ocean. -isak dinesen

I bloody love cycling, but I CRASHED MY BIKE IN 2012, I cycled into the back of a taxi, so I guess I have to take some responsibility  I was fine, but the bike died... I later discovered this http://bicycletaxidermy.com/  Get your bike handlebars mounted like a Moose's Head

CHECK OUT THIS MAN's CV http://www.informationisbeautifulawards.com/gallery/paulo-estriga-infographic-cv/

Going for a Summer Swim in Hampstead Heath Ponds



cycling 120 miles overnight is one of the best things you can do

Graham Linehan and Armando Ianucci on comedy writing - http://www.comedy.co.uk/podcasts/richard_herring_lst_podcast/episode_9_iannucci_linehan/ …

Solid Tumblr which proves that Dads really are the original hipsters - http://dadsaretheoriginalhipster.tumblr.com/ 

YouTube comments of the year

'I just started my own colony of Dermestid beatles. I have about 100 they are working their way through a pigeon skeleton at the moment x)'

'I'm all about King of Spain. it reminds me of a dude riding the fuck out of his horse as fast as he can to go stop a marriage or something'

Also used http://airbnb.co.uk/ for the first time and it was wicked. £25 for my own converted stable apartment. And they let me use their hammock... Definitely worth checking out if you want somewhere to stay, about 1000% better than a hotel

I wrote a letter to the Leveson Inquiry


SOCIAL MEDIA - Follow my ramblings here http://twitter.com/thomhoffman

@thomhoffman: WEBSITE IDEA: Trombolar - dating website for people who have played the trombone

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.11.54
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.11.54

@thomhoffman: 'I took the map less printed out, and that has made all the difference'

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.15.14
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.15.14

@thomhoffman: Lady on the bus reading 50 Shades of Grey. Myself & other members of the travel sickness community, find this an abuse of power

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.19.02
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.19.02

@thomhoffman: Hipster cows should be scene and not herd

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.19.39
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.19.39

@thomhoffman: DOUCHEBAG just autocorrected to SPICEBUSH, so I'll probably just use that now instead

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.20.41
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.20.41

@thomhoffman: I'd be a pretty liberal parent, but I wouldn't let my kid eat that ham that's also a bear's face.

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.31.27
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.31.27

@thomhoffman: How bad would a war have to get before they called up the people who do British Military Fitness?

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.34.30
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.34.30



Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.39.25
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 16.39.25

I don't know if it's a good or bad sign, but the neighbours did not seem surprised AT ALL to see me skateboarding down the road in my dressing gown whilst juggling three alarm clocks

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.03.15
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.03.15

@thomhoffman: Magic FM is the least ambitious magic possible. If magic was a thing, it wouldn't be doing this

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.05.35
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.05.35

@thomhoffman: working from home today. Door rings = saleswoman/Jehovahs' witness or something. 'Are your mum and dad home?' - 'Err not right now'. Me = 27

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.05.48
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.05.48

@thomhoffman: Best/Worst lyric = 'you know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute. I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot'

Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.07.33
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.07.33
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.08.04
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.08.04
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.09.48
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 17.09.48


The Artist / Argo / Searching for Sugarman / Moonrise Kingdom


Darwin Deez / Friendly Fires / Ben Gibbard / Tallest Man on Earth


Happiness Hypothesis - Jonathan Haidt / Fermat's Last Theorem - Simon Singh / Everything Matters - Ron Currie JR / Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon / In the Blink of an Eye - Walter Murch / Boxer Beetle Ned Beaumann


Tough one, I'm not as 'down with the kids' as I used to be. I'm about as 'down with the kids', as a person who says 'down with the kids'. The album I've listened to the most this year came from like 2004, but I really got into 'Explosions in the Sky' This year. Such a cool band, who make everything sound EPIC.

This song is a beaut and a nice video


I've had an awesome year, hope you've had one too, thanks for spending some of it here. If you've got any highlights to spread please drop a comment.




Dunwich Dynamo XX 2012

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Dunwich Dynamo XX 2012

Cycle 120 miles from London to Suffolk overnight.

At first it sounded like an awesome idea, then, once I’d agreed and thought about it some more, it sounded faintly ridiculous and almost impossible.

I guess I found it pretty hard to form an opinion on taking on challenge like this, considering that I’d never even cycled half this distance, and I can’t recall ever having stayed up all night. Let alone combining both activities into one ride, with no support to come and pick you up, should your bike, or your body, decide to give up on you.

In the end our bikes gave up on us before we’d even started but this didn’t seem to hamper our progress too much.

A Bad Start

A Bad Start

The Dunwich Dynamo is in its 20th year. Legend has it the ride was inaugurated by a group of bike couriers who wanted to see the sea. Abandoning their empty pint glasses in Hackney, they pedalled until Suffolk.

The ride has grown year on year, and there were some estimations flying round of over 2000 cyclists taking part this time round.

You get a kind of route map, but we couldn’t really be bothered to look at it, and just followed other people, we would evaluate if they looked more pro than us – inevitably yes. [Exhibit A: I was cycling in my swimming trunks...] And then head in that direction.



My bike had been giving me a bit of trouble for the first 60 miles, Hills felt like belligerent mountains, punishing me for some kind of horrible crime my knees committed when I was a child. Fortunately when we hit Sudbury there was an amazing free cycle repair stand. Their mechanic spied my wheel grinding against my frame, acting like a permanent giant metal brake. He fixed it - my new hero. I wanted to pop him in the mange tout crate balanced on the back of my bike and take him with me, but he had other bikes to fix! I must give a massive shout out to Torque Bikes of Sudbury. If you are in the Sudbury area you should go there! http://www.torquebikes.co.uk/

The next 60 miles seemed like a breeze compared to the first 60 miles; there’s probably some sort of metaphor about life there, but I’m not quite sure what. I would definitely recommend bringing a fully working bicycle if you do want to try this event; it makes it more fun.

Broing Out

Broing Out

There's something cool about experiencing all of the different light conditions in one go. Starting in sunny evening London, through the dusky blue light of nightfall. The Twinkling stars, under a watchful Moon guiding you through deep dark countryside, followed by rich breaking sunrise, and glorious blue skies of the perfect, all too rare, summer morning.



I’d say it was doable for anyone who cycles to work regularly and has a sense of adventure. It was a broad church. Mario and Luigi on a tandem. A bike crew who looked on their way to the Olympics [Team Dulwich] a bike crew who seemed to be most concerned with stopping in every pub [Team Barnes]. The main uniting feature was the love of adventure, and doing something different.

I took some random photos along the way with my new GoPro camera, I’ve been obsessed with their amazing marketing video. Honestly watch it, you will not be disappointed.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUEZCxBcM78&w=640&h=360]

I now constantly have this soundtrack in my head. Throughout the whole cycle it was there humming around my brain, making my every move seem epic, I unwrap my second Walnut Bread and Jarlsberg sandwich, Boom I’m a legend, it’s business time.

There were lots of nice people, the weather was amazing and jumping in the sea with beaming sunshine was wicked. Maybe if the weather wasn’t so good then it could be kind of annoying, but I know I’ll be doing this again. I'd honestly say it's one of the best things I've ever done*.



Other things I learned

My Cycle Bro Jess and I realised we knew lots of Eminem lyrics from the second album.

Props to everyone who opened up their front gardens to make coffee – you are heroes, The coffee I had at 50 miles was almost as good as the bike repair at 60.

If you know of any other cool or crazy rides, let me know as this has definitely given me the taste!

*some other things I've done include - Nigel Winterburn's Soccer School, seen Sisqo live, failed a job interview at a McDonald's**

** it was much better than all of these things



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Culture Badger's to do list of London

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Culture Badger's to do list of London


This photo I took in the pouring rain sums up London for me

I had to work in Paris recently, it was stressful, but productive. I got the Eurostar back late Sunday night. On this train I met some Canadians and they ended up staying at my house for three days. It was lots of fun, a bit of a gamble on all of our parts I guess, but I'm trusting my judgement more these days.

It led me to the question

'what should I recommend to my new house guests to do in London'.

I love London, but I don't know that London. I don't know, for example, what train station to get off to go to Buckingham Palace [Yeah ok I have now looked it up, but the point stands].

I hypocritically always apply pressure to anyone I know who has been somewhere, or even done a geography GCSE, to give me advice on what I should do in when I go somewhere new.

Considering I've lived within a 20 mile radius of London for 24 of my 27 years, I should probably be able to offer someone an opinion on what they should do in my city.

Anyway. That's a long winded way of saying, I like London, here are the things to do that represent the London I like.

1] 'I need to get me some falafel' - Hoxton Beach falafel - it's not really a thing to do, it's some food; but this little stand pops up every day on Goodge Place in Goodge Street as well as various other locations across East London. If they gave monkeys access to this falafel in some kind of experiment, they would probably eat it constantly until they died. You can take that as a compliment. Hoxton Beach - please use this in your publicity materials, I will do this in exchange for free cauliflower in my next wrap.

2] 'I really want to eat a plate' - Ethiopian Food @ Queen of Sheba - Kentish Town - Probably Ethiopian food is better placed on a blog  about things to do in Addis Ababa. BUT one of the things I love about London is the whole, 'all bits of the world have some space here', thing. This place is great, food comes on a pancake, and you share it, and you get to eat your plate because it's a pancake.

Killer Whale in a Jar
Killer Whale in a Jar

3] 'I would like to adopt some platypi reproductive organs' - Grant Zoological Museum - They have a Killer Whale Foetus, and a collection of moles, in a jar. It's a beautiful little natural history museum, free entry, right in the heart of Euston. Slightly odd opening hours, but really worth a visit.

4] 'I've literally never seen anyone not on heroin in a bandstand' - Bandstand Busking - YES I'M BIASED, as I occasionally direct films for them, but I only got involved by attending first as a fan. I love music, but can't hack big gigs, standing at the back whilst people talk. nightmare. This is music the way it's supposed to be played, plus it's free and all the bands are great. Fall in love with this London.


5] 'I am a non-believer, but I wanna have me some church time' - Gig at the Union Chapel - Probably my favourite venue in London. They needed to pay for repairs to the roof, so started holding events there and it's grown into a massive thing. They do loads of amazing charity work, so it's really a cause worth supporting. I've seen Bombay Bicycle Club, Alessi's Ark, Stewart Lee, and Peter Serafinowicz all perform there. They also do free gigs called Daylight Music most Saturday lunchtimes from 12-2pm, always really interesting. They serve good value food upstairs in the bar area, and tea and coffee on Saturdays.

Erin K and Tash
Erin K and Tash
Party Time - 'excellent'
Party Time - 'excellent'

6] 'I'd like to watch the new Herzhog, or attend a masked ball like the one in Labyrinth, and then watch Labyrinth' - Prince CharlesCinema - I got a membership here for around £10, massive bargain, it's a way to see films reasonably priced in London's Leicester Square. You don't need to be a member to go there. They do loads of great events, I recently went to Schwing Along with Wayne's World. It was cool, people dressed up like their favourite character, really nice silly fun. They also do cool documentaries and non-mainstream stuff.

7] 'I need to work off all the falafel I ate during point #1]' - Ride a bike around - best way to see London, if you wobble around on a Boris Bike like a drunk tourist then motorists usually give you a bit of room, so don't be too scared. If roads are not your friend then I'd advise cycling along Regent's Canal. You could do my 40 mile fun route if you are keen [as described in a previous post], otherwise cycle from Angel to East London, maybe stop for lunch at Broadway market that'd be nice!

Kookaburras Broing Out
Kookaburras Broing Out

8] 'Most Londoners have a mattress in the road as their garden' -Have a potter round Hampstead Heath. I live in London and only have a poorly tended window ledge to call an outdoor space. When I need to get into some greenery, I head to the Heath. There is a beautiful thing called a Pagoda, I don't know what that means, but it's insane. Golder's Hill Park is a park within Hampstead Heath. I like it there too, there's a little zoo. I went there and my ex girlfriend adopted me a kookaburra. One day I went to visit it, it was smashing a baby chick to death against a pole. Elton John never sang about that.

9] 'Gah I'm somereason in central London at night and I need another drink' - Player's piano bar, it's a bar where a guy sits and plays piano and everyone sings along, it's kind of weird and nuts, It's definitely not 'cool' but it's pretty fun.

10] 'I want to dance with somebody, I want to feel the heat with somebody, yes I wanna dance with somebody, with somebody who probably didn't know me before and likes old stuff' - London Swing Dance Society does great classes and sessions where you can do a bit of a class, learn some moves, then dance with people, maybe in front of a wicked swing band! No excuses, beginners class will leave you with enough moves to have a go. Good way to meet nice people and I will often make visitors come and have a go.

11] 'I want to be someone else for a bit' - Improv classes... I love a good improv session. Hoopla improv runs classes every Saturday, each has a different theme, but if you are interested in performance, writing, or just messing around it's a really good no pressure, fun place to do it.

12] 'I need a pint, that's not awful, in Camden' - This is getting an easier dilemma to solve, my best tips are the Black Heart [lovely], near the World's End [not for me]. And the recently opened Brew Dog is a great shout for Independent craft beers.

13] 'I want to see a play in a room the size of that board meeting where the new design of the USB drives were announced' - Pentameter's Theatre - I've seen three great plays out of three here, and the theatre only fits about 30, it's really ace, you could get a crepe from the little famous crepe place beforehand. You can grab a nice pint from the pub underneath and take it up to the play - Perfect.

14] 'I want to do a laugh' - Some of my friends did a stand up comedy course, at the The Comedy School in Camden and they got all good at it, so I've been to a lot of stand up shows across London. Best FREE open mic night in my humble opinion is The Cavendish Arms in Stockwell, nice audience, good MCing and smart set up.

15] 'I want to do a laugh and I don't mind paying' - always great acts, good mix of circuit pros, and exciting newbies! Hooting Broadway, in Tooting Broadway [see what they did there] [[See what I did there]].

16] 'Well I like music, and I like films... but which do I like best?' - See Hear Club. Great, special nights at the Roof Gardens in Dalston, a band plays a show, and they you nestle down and watch a film picked by the band. A really great way to spend a summer's evening out East. Curated by @AnikainLondon #ff

17] 'I LIKE OLD STUFF' Go and see something at Wilton's Music Hall - Europe's oldest working music hall, and an incredible venue, really magic, take a look at the listings and go and go and check it out, I've had some great nights here.

18] 'I like having a reason to drink all day' Day at Lords. Beautiful venue, you can go and watch a nice game of cricket, have a drink and a chat. It can be a bit pricey, but it is a whole days entertainment. My tips are to use 'LateGate' where you can go after tea, for a few good hours cricket for around £10. Also if a test goes to a fifth day, you can sometime get cheaper tickets. Even if you don't like cricket, this is the place to grow to love it. Follow @HomeOfCricket for details on ticket price and whatnot.

I have probably left some things I like out, please feel free to add your own, I love to hear about cool stuff going down.

London's alright isn't it!



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After #TalkFest I attended #MedFest. I bloody love a good #Fest. It was all about how medicine and health are interpreted through film; and I found it really interesting as it's kind of what I do in my day job. I'll keep this one brief, but props to the people who organised it, the panel was very interesting and it gave me plenty of food for thought. Here are some of the videos that we watched at the event, and that I would highly recommend.

This is an intriguing film about 'obesity' made by the British Medical Association in 1967


Safe to say - They don't make 'em like this anymore. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Part Two and Three here

A really brilliant example of a more modern video, made as part of the Animated Minds series is here. They got a real OCD sufferer to tell his story, and then animated it. It was a collaborative production between sufferer and director, designed to ensure that it gave a genuine reflection of a complicated condition. I think it's great. It's used to help families and friends, as well as medical professionals, understand mental health conditions. We know that such conditions can be difficult for non-sufferers to identify with, and consequently empathise with.  The director, Andy Glynne, remarked that animations have a great way of telling one person's story, without making it just about that person. It's also used to help sufferers appreciate that they are not alone and that there are people who improve and learn to cope with things that at times feel insurmountable. 

A while back a friend sent me a video of Jonathan Benjamin, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (a combination of schizophrenia and depression) in 2007. He was keen to document his journey toward recovery because, when he was at his lowest ebb, he never heard talk of people getting better. The patient view is really important, and I think videos like this, as well as animated minds, can help us all to appreciate other people's perspectives, essential in order to validate other people's experiences.

It's interesting to reflect on how our attitudes to health are shaped by these types of media. A key thought that I left with is that, in the information age, the rules are changing so much; that the medium needs as much thought as the message. I marvel to think what our 1967 counterparts would think about shows like 'Embarrassing Bodies'.






I did some talking, and some listening, at the recent Sounds of Science #talkfest at the Biochemical Society . I thought I'd throw my thinkings down on to internet paper and add some bits from the other panellists who were way more insightful than me. Now could be a good time to bail out, and go listen to the talk which was kindly recorded by Martin Zaltz Austwick. Alternatively I will relink at the bottom. This is kind of like a 'choose your own adventure book'


My first podcast emerged from 2008. I wanted the student news satire radio show, made by me and Sam Wong, to reach more than 3 people. The university had a website where you could stream stuff, which was great [but not download]. Unlike the music shows however we didn't have any rights issues; due to our opinions not being valued by the Recording industry Association of America. We decided we would offer it as a podcast. It got us hundreds of new listeners, which for us, was awesome. We were now accessible to anyone at their whim, for download from RSS feeds and itunes.


After that I did work experience at the BBC for a month and then started work at the British Medical Journal, making educational podcasts about Swine Flu. It was an interesting time, and perfectly suited to the quick turnaround medium of the podcast. Especially as the BMJ wanted to increase is online offering; moving toward being an 'online first journal' jabbing at the cutting edge of digital publishing.

It proved to be very popular for us, and gave me a job. After swine flu, we moved on to doing more esoteric, nuanced, debates which we felt would benefit from having someone talk you through the issues.

In educational terms, they're great for debate, and discussion. It's like listening in on a great conversation. Also, a fundamental point is the web-based nature of podcasts allow you to have a landing page with links that build on what has been discussed. These links then point you in the direction of more information giving you a chance to investigate opinions further for yourself. The internet is full of all the knowledge, but we need 'experts and gatekeepers we respect and trust' to direct us toward great content. If you have a trusted brand, or are an expert in something, it's a great way to deliver your message.

During #Talkfest people played some brilliant audio clips, but as these clips played I got anxious about what to do with my eyes, where am I supposed to look? Normally I'm fine, but occasionally I find mid-conversation I think about eye contact and panic about how much eye contact is weird, am I making too much or too little? What is the ratio? Is there some etiquette list out there somewhere?

I just went and looked one up, it said

'E-How - To maintain a healthy level of eye contact, communication experts recommend looking someone in the eye for intervals of four to five seconds, then looking away briefly -- at their mouth or nose or at something nearby -- then re-establish eye contact.
Yahoo Answers- i would say 70% on and 30% brief look aways if im conversing with someone for an extended period of time'


Here is one of the clips: An Oral History of British Science, was introduced by Tom Lean. He's working on a project creating a major archive of in-depth interviews with British Scientists. There are some great clips there

Martin created a kind of drum and bass Whale -music influenced podcast intro, made from the sounds of Tottenham Court Road...

I think in the internet age, audio can have a non-compulsory, complimentary, visual aspect. I LOVE soundcloud, something about seeing waveforms is just cool. But it's not just like the dizzy heights of the Windows Media Player visualizations, you can add comments to different sections of your audio, and a little profile picture pops up at the bottom,

LET US compare these two players.




each of those little cubes is a comment which flashes up as the playhead travels along the song. Not essential in order to enjoy the audio, but a nice interactive adjunct.

Interactivity is often thrown around with regard to multimedia, and is something which grinds my gears. Multimedia is not inherently interactive; unless you count pressing play and stop as interaction. Which from an educational/informative perspective reminds me of a quote I read once, it was about documentary but I think the point stands

  ‘an audience that is already sitting back listening may not be persuaded to sit forward and see for itself’

Robert Drew

‘Imagining Reality’

I agree this is possible, but also that, audio particularly, is sometimes the most immersive medium around.

Audio's challenges, are also it's strong points, and I guess that's why the digital era is so exciting, as we can build on these, and start to move away from arbitrary audio/video/text delineations.

Cowbird is a new storytelling startup which looks really cool. You have a large image, which you can kind of pan around, whilst listening to a short-story piece. It could be fiction, or someone interviewing a relative. I think some of these come out beautifully and I will try to make my own one soon.

The phenomenon of the 'produser' and the massive democratizing effect of technology is having a real impact on storytelling. I heard someone recently state that the idea of sitting down to a 90 minute film, will be seen as a real anachronism; a kind of blip in the history of culture. It's an interesting idea, but I certainly feel like a powerful short film, audio piece or poem, or combination of all three has so many different chances to live and be consumed that hopefully the best ones will find an audience.


If you want to make a podcast, you probably already have the equipment. Radio Kate, works at Audioboo and this fantastic clip emphasises how you can capture something awesome on a mobile phone.

Another favourite podcaster of mine is Daniel Ruiz Tizon - he recorded probably somewhere in the region of 100 hours of podcasts on his Blackberry, and for the most part it's some of the most original, compelling, podcast content I've heard in a while.

A significant portion of the audience discussion focussed on the quality of audio, and whilst it's definitely an issue, I'm so in the camp that ideas are worth way more than quality. If you consider how we can tolerate a crappy phone line for an hour, if the other end of that line is making us laugh or think then it's not such a big deal.

Michelle brought us back to the skills involved in professional radio production, and creating soundscapes in documentary. Mentioning a #ProTip she heard from a Norwegian producer,

Treat the microphone like a camera, with close ups, mids and wide shots.

It's a really effective way of layering sound, and giving some contextual clues to help people anchor themselves in space, working the subconscious. Michelle also emphasised the importance of the first minute of your audio, but I would also urge listeners to bear with podcasts for a bit, part of the joy is the slow burn potential.

Her lovely documentary on 'the instruction manual' is a beautiful listen



  • Zoom H4n [£250] - Broadcast quality sound equipment
  • Audacity [Free]
  • Podomatic/soundcloud/ [which feed into] iTunes [Freemium]


It's important for people producing stuff to be able to keep producing it. There are a number of different models around and everyone is still finding their feet. I don't think people go into these industries with the idea that they'll strike it rich, but they probably want to buy shoes for their children, and if they make cool stuff that makes your life better, that's got to be worth a bit of a financial-digital high five. Some media outlets [

like the Guardian

] have internal podcast teams, some have links with podcasts [formerly Times and the Bugle]. Some commercial outlets support podcasters [David Mitchell's Soapbox]. Increasingly traditional broadcasters are getting on board with people who tested their ideas in digital media.

Consider Black Cab Sessions - originally a couple of guys filming bands in the back of a cab for one song, for putting on youtube. Several years later, they now have their own Channel4 show which took a Black Cab to America.


Black Cab Sessions USA from Black Cab Sessions on Vimeo.

Robert Llewelyn's video podcast in which interviewed people whlst driving around in his electric car, was originally sponsored by an electric car manufacturer, and finally became a show on TV station Dave.

Ricky Gervais' podcasts went from being hosted by the Guardian, to being turned into animated cartoons for HBO.

Donations and [pay what you think it's worth] are interesting phenomena, and I'd love to see the stats on how these things do. I've donated to a couple recently, and it feels completely right to do so. Something like the


has probably given me 100 hours of entertainment for FREE, it would seem bastardish to not feel like chipping in when you think of it like that.

Richard Herring

, a long time podcaster, articulated how people feel inclined to come out and watch his shows because of how much entertainment he's given them via his own podcasts. They don't just see it as £10 for an evening, it's a more nuanced transaction. It's also a great medium for testing material, and getting yourself out there to new audiences.

Other podcasts like Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown, have live recordings and charge a small fee to the audience

MY TOP TEN PODCASTS [these link to my favourite episodes, where appropriate]


Comedy Bang Bang

 - insane improvised comedy, music and games currently my number 1


The Bugle

 - Previous champion - still a huge pull - best satirical news out there right now


Pod F Tompkast

 - my favourite comedian from #1 fastest wit, and best impressions


Off the Wall Post

 - one for the tech and social/new media geeks out there, always good value, funny and interesting, source of #wankywords


NPR All Songs Considered

 - American Music podcasts, always food for thought.


Daniel Ruiz Tizon

 - Half man, half-P45, writer Daniel Ruiz Tizon and his tales of Lambeth living



 - Most innovative science podcast out there, embraces digital technology in it's production - sometimes MAGIC


Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown

 - curveball, comedy, sketches, audience interaction - fun


Guardian Science Weekly

- great balance of proper science and healthy irreverance


Coffee Break Spanish

- learn Spanish - free podcasts, pay for additional worksheets and extras


Interacting Weakly

- bottom of the list because it's only 3 episodes old, and a nepotism warning as I gave birth to some of the words used in it

A lot of these are included in a

less technical blog about podcasts

I wrote last year, with more description of why I like them

These will wax and wane and flux, but I'd hearilty recommend getting stuck in to any of them

Another blog post about the event, by Melanie Hall, can be found here

Great 'How To: Guide' post by Dr Martin Zaltz Austwick about academic podcasting http://sociablephysics.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/academic-podcasting-101/

And Elizabeth Hauke's 5 'P's of Podcasting

People you should follow on Twitter

Dr Alice Bell 

Kate Arkless Gray

Dr Martin Zaltz Austwick

Michelle Martin

and me.... @thomhoffman

As promised, a podcast of the talk...



Point Break: or... what I learned about making a short short film



Point Break in 6.0 Steps

So we made the shortlist for the Empire Done in 60 Seconds Film Competition [Hells yeah!]. The challenge was to remake a film in 60 seconds. So I thought I’d make a little guide to how we made our short film, and a little bit about making short films in general [caveat I know nothing about anything].

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/35321098 w=400&h=225]

Point Break - Done in 60 Seconds from Thom Hoffman on Vimeo.

1] Pick a film, and watch that film

When making a short film, which is very unlikely to make you any money, it’s important you don’t go overboard on expenditure. Sure you want some exploding helicopters? Don’t we all, but unless you work for some kind of ballistics company with a penchant for expensive team-building exercises, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to film one.

You may, however, be doing something cool or weird which you can film. Maybe, you’re uncle trains Killer Whales, perhaps it snowed and you love Scandinavian vampire films, or perhaps you just got fired and want to push your bosses computer out of a window. NOW IS YOUR CHANCE, GRAB YOUR CAMERA. You must take advantage of these natural situations to help work efficiently, and make the best of the other activities that make up the time of your life



We were planning on going surfing so naturally we thought of how we could incorporate it into a film. We immediately thought of Point Break, despite no-one being able to recall having seen it all the way through.

We all sat down, watched the film, laughed, threw ideas around, joked and made notes, and ate pizza, naturally.



2) Write a Script 

Sam Wong took the bull by the horns and started a google document throwing down the ideas we’d discussed the day before. We shared the document with everyone who was to come surfing, and added jokes, vetoed jokes, and started to get a bit creative with our ideas.

The main thing about scripting is that it’s the best time to be editing. The more you shoot, the more time it will take to edit, the more stressed you get about decisions, and the less fun the process becomes. A wise man said if you have a shooting ratio of more than 80:1 you’re effectively a CCTV camera, not a filmmaker.

3) Storyboard

Not everyone likes to storyboard, and it’s by no means essential. Some scenes I storyboarded and some I didn’t. I think it helps loads when making a short film that needs to link together super-smoothely; to think about how your shots will connect to each other. The more times you do this, the more you understand the grammar of film, and how different shots work their way into the narrative. Every decision you take as a filmmaker should have a reason. Kurt Vonnegut said, start as close to the end as possible. I think that’s a good way to look at things. Does this bit need to be here?

I cannot draw for toffee, and not even one of those expensive classy souvenir toffees, I’m talking some kind of Chomp of something. But this doesn’t have to hold you back. See Exhibit A.



A storyboard is a great way to show actors, other camera people, editors, etc, and even stick men will go some way to help.

4) Shoot

The advent of Digital SLR cinematography is, if we were wanky-media-types, what we could call ‘a gamechanger’. I have a Canon 550D which set me back around £550. And you could legitimately do everything on that basic kit if you wanted to, it films in full HD. Realistically you are going to want to spend a bit more on some sound equipment, something like a Zoom H4N will work great and is around £200, then you might well want some more lenses to give you a few more options. I love my 50mm prime [fixed] lens it lets in lots of light and allows you to have a really nice cinematic shallow depth of field. I wouldn’t actually have bothered getting the kit lens if I knew what I know now, but it certainly is adequate for the purposes of a short film.

You don’t need to have a DSLR though, this brilliant short film [Thrush] by was made using just a stills camera, and you could get the same results using any decent level compact camera.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/4131811 w=400&h=225]

Thrush from Gabriel Bisset-Smith on Vimeo.

I personally think ideas are way more important than the equipment. These DSLRS are great, and really allow you to tell a story which looks pretty professional to most people’s eyes once squeezed down into Youtube or Vimeo.

I bought a 55-250mm (telephoto zoom) lens, because I like Wildlife photography, and it’s good for filming gigs and things at a distance. It also works great for shooting something like surfing, for when you don’t want to take your shiny new camera too far into the sea…



If you are looking to get started in the world of filming I really recommend nofilmschool blog, which has an awesome free DSLR cinematography guide. There are also loads of cool instructional and educational videos on Vimeo which can help guide you. Most importantly, get out there, film something, make some mistakes, as Beckett said, fail again, fail better. You’ll learn about composition, depth of field, focusing, aperture, lighting, sound etc as you go along. Take each trip and play around with one setting until you feel like you’ve mastered it.

We shot the surfing stuff first as we were going surfing in October, it was really fun, we only needed a little bit of surfing so we just tried to get some shots for the montage, and some shots of good surfing. It only made a few seconds in the film, but it gave it a bit of something extra because it had some bona fide action. We then cheated by faking two different parachute jump scenes, with cheeky replacement activities; including one in the doorway of a Sainsbury’s.



The deadline wasn’t until January, so naturally we kind of forgot about it for a while until we had a few weeks left to spare, then gathered everyone together to film the rest of the scenes. We storyboarded, then just improvised around what we had in the local area.

I think it’s a good idea to keep a diary of places that you might one day want to film in, with some pictures and moods or genres. They say it’s all about location location location, and whilst that’s probably a bit excessive for filming, choose the right location, and you have to work much less hard to make things look interesting, and struggle against unwieldy logistics.



Get friends to help you too, my flatmate/ TV researcher Nigel Alred, came and operated the camera and sound when the rest of us where acting. It’s a big help to have people around, and it should be pretty fun so you it doesn’t have to be a massive chore. We basically nailed it in one afternoon.

5) Editing

Once you’ve got all your footage you have to start piecing it together. I recently bought a 2nd hand iMac of Gumtree, which came with software included. The latest version of Final Cut Pro [Industry standard Video Editing Software] is £199, which is incredible considering what you can do with it. You can download a free month trial of most softwares, long enough to experiment with different programmes, see whether you like them [or whether you like filmmaking at all]. And, if you work smartly, long enough to cut your short film. Final Cut [Mac] and Adobe Premier Pro [Mac and PC] are the two main choices here.

I did a first edit of the surfing footage we did, which was helpful in framing what we shot on the last day. You start to develop a pace, and style which informs  how the rest of your movie should feel. You become attached to certain shots, and sometimes you have to ignore that, sometimes you have to embrace it, there’s no certainty behind it. But if it’s your project, back yourself to know what you want.

I watched my footage through and decided if it was worth keeping or not, and whether is was A grade material or B grade material [in relative terms…]. I would raise a note of caution here: if you are doing a 60 second film, the shots will be so quick that even if it’s not a perfect take all the way through; there may be enough there for it to be the best one. So if something has a bit of magic to it but someone muffs a line or laughs; don’t necessarily bin it. That slightly less magical, yet perfect, take may be trimmed to a half a second. I was actually guided by those laughs, and pretty much every scene in the rough edit was one that had me or someone else laughing at the end. Normally very unprofessional and annoying, but in this case it marked it out as having a viscerally funny quality, if we didn't find it funny at the time, chance are the audience won't, and vice-verse. Something it gets hard to appreciate once you’ve seen something 100 times.

Get it down to the size you want, and remember our old friend Kurt, you may feel it’s impossible to cut anything else out but you’ll soon find that you can trim scenes here and there, overlay dialogue, just plain old DELETE. This is where we are really glad we didn’t film way too much, and subsequently have to kiss goodbye to complicated scenes that just will not fit.

An important lesson going back to the writing, is the importance of conveying things using everything that isn’t dialogue. It’s a great skill to learn as a filmmaker, and one that probably develops later in normal film making. In short filmmaking it’s non-negotiable. Everything has to drive the narrative; because there just isn’t time to explain everything in words. Every look, prop, bit of music, sound effect is an opportunity to help you tell your story more effectively.



Sound is crucial, we had to redo the beach sounds, because of noisy wind and waves and there are probably some slightly dubious dubbing bits, but it’s really important that people can hear what the actors are saying. This is not a mumblecore film, [though I actually like those films] it’s a film equivalent of a street fight, and each blow has to land.

Music helps loads, it tells the story, covers any dodgy recorded-sound, and gives you another avenue for comedic expression. Sound effects are really important, you may have to redo footsteps so they’re not affected by the wind, find some sound clips of waves, or atmosphere. One of the funnest bits of the whole process was having all of us attempting to recreate the sound of a cat being kicked. We wanted to ensure no cats were harmed during the process… I think we used Geoff Marsh's cat sound in the end.

Finally when you’ve chopped it and smoothed it, send it to a friend or two, upload it privately to vimeo and send people links, take feedback. If you want to be in a creative industry you’re going to have to get used to criticism. Bear in mind that you may be blind to the film having watched it so many times, and maybe slightly hate it a bit too [don’t worry this feeling will pass]. Take people’s suggestions if they have them. Think about them, they are more like your audience than you are [Most people will only watch this once, and you could probably reenact it word for word]. You’re decision is final, just make sure you can justify these decisions, even if just in your own mind. You’re always unhappy with your last project because you are a better filmmaker for having made it! As The genius Stephen Wright says.

‘Experience is something you get just after you need it’.

6) Upload and spread the word

This is probably the bit I’m least good at, there has never been a better time to make amateur movies. There is a massive potential audience out there, hungry for good content. YouTube is like the 2nd largest search engine in the world. We’ve tried to spread the word through Twitter, and Facebook, forums and various other bits of internet, and hopefully lots of random people will have stumbled across the website and enjoyed what everyone has done. If you like the film please spread the word, but the important thing is that it was really fun to make. There are some other really cool entries too, making use of varied tools from animation, to mobile phone footage. The most important thing is that it’s fun to do, it’s great to make things, and a competition like this is a really good way to learn some lessons, make some mistakes and practice the art of telling good stories.

Mad props to the following people



Ben Harp - Charlie Hall Johnny Utah - Sam Wong Pappas - Thom Hoffman Tyler - Sam Woolf Bodhi - Geoff Marsh

And Nigel Alred

Special thanks to Charlie Hall who inspired me by doing this last year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUbG9f1nQBY&w=560&h=315]

Hopefully you’ll feel you can have a go too, and if you need a second opinion or some help get in touch.

Thom - find me on my website thomhoffman.co.uk


Cycling the Grand Union Canal

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Cycling the Grand Union Canal

I recently went on a cycle that was so nice, I thought I'd blog it. My family live in Zone 9, it's similar to cloud 9, although in almost no ways. I now live in zone 2, so thought it'd be fun to cycle the intermittent zones one day. I had a quick google, and found a route along the canal that goes from Mile End to Berkhamsted, this would near enough cover my route. I know there are canals, I've walked and cycled along them a bit, mostly from Regent's Park to Camden, but I genuinely didn't know the canal was still linked up that well, and certainly didn't think it'd be possible to cycle the whole way along the canal. It's easy to forget this incredible forgotten artery that flows through England.

Zone 2 to Zone 9

Zone 2 to Zone 9

Well it is possible, and it's a really stunning route. I have a reasonably impractical old 70's racing bike, and it was kind of muddy, and subsequently kind of scary, but I didn't fall into the canal. Three of the four of us got punctures, so I would recommend a repair kit and a pump, but more importantly I would recommend doing it. You can cycle all the way to Rickmansworth then hop off and get the train back; if you don't fancy doubling back on yourself.

We stopped once to have some Birthday Cake, even though I'm pretty sure it was no-one's birthday.



*I just went and checked and it was Spider Loc, American rapper, member of G-Unit's Birthday that day, so happy birthday to you Spider Loc.

We also stopped at the Coy Carp pub in Harefield, it was very nice, they had several real ales, and also 3 courses for a bargainous £10 - it was clear then that we'd gotten a fair way out of London.

it rained a little bit, but just meant we stayed cool, and got to see this.

Rainbow, somewhere near Wembley

Rainbow, somewhere near Wembley

If you don't have a bike, you should get one, I reckon you could even do it on a Boris Bike. Having said that,  my calculations suggest it would cost you around £35. And it would be hard to remove from the canal if you fell in.

I think there is a canal festival, at some point which is supposed to be good, but I will definitely be doing this route again, during the spring, it's a beaut.

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Culture Badger - Best of 2011 @thomhoffman


Culture Badger - Best of 2011 @thomhoffman

This is a bit late, but lots of other 'best of the year's' happened before 2011 has finished, so you know, turns out you can have it both ways... In December I read a Bella Union blog about best things of 2011, which introduced me to one of the best things I found in 2011. And inspired me to write this... Anyway whichever way you look at it; it's now 2012 so a good time to reflect on the cool stuff which happened, amongst the chaos that was twenty eleven.


I wrote a whole post about podcasts but the one I need to share anew is Comedy Bang Bang, I'm throwing it out there, because I would die happy if I were ever to be on that show. It makes my face do shapes and sounds of laughter that I didn't know could happen.


Special mention for the Pod F Tompkast - also great

I made my acting debut in 60 Second remake of the Social Network, which was shortlisted for the Empire Magazine's 'Done in 60 seconds' competition.

We didn't win but it's a thing that I like. Directed by the multi-talented Charlie Hall, check it. It's literally 60 seconds.

Here is a music video I did some work on recently .

There are loads of great videos on this site http://bandstandbusking.com/ and you should follow @BandstandBusks on twitter and you can come along to the next one. Some of their shows have been the best I've been to this year, and they're all free.

Special Mention to Black Cab Sessions - filming one song by loads of amazing bands, in the back of a cab - Watch them..


I really enjoyed Senna, White Diamond, Rear Window, Submarine, In the Heat of the Night, True Grit

I once applied to do a medical trial, it would have involved getting flu and staying in a hotel for a month, for around £5000. I didn't get the gig, and I guess that's a good thing. I did, however, read the awesome 'Rebel Without a Crew' written by 'From Dusk Till Dawn', and 'Sin City' director Robert Rodriguez. He did a medical trial, and used the time to write a movie script, the money to fund the script, and a guy he met in there to be the leading man.

He went to Mexico, filmed it on his own, and eventually it became a Hollywood hit - AMAZING, and inspiring. The film he made was El Mariachi, and it is great!

Greatest Own Goal ever - Even if you don't like football, there is something, mind blowing about this own goal


If Alanis Morisette liked football, there would have been a line in her hit song Ironic, about scoring one of the greatest goals ever, and it being against your own goalkeeper.

Festus Baise - we salute you

I found this radio documentary series, called Story Corps, about a group of US radio producers, who record ordinary people telling their stories to their friends, or relatives, whilst in a recording booth. Some of these stories are amazing, and it's a great project

'2011: The Year Beyond Words' is a great video by Barry Pilling


The Salsa Dog - Dogs being ridiculous, this is one of the most visceral videos of 2011


Beautiful 1-second film competition shortlist. Hemingway famously remarked, that you could tell a story, and have narrative, in one line.

'For Sale: baby shoes, never worn'

Yeah that's right, I went from the salsa dog to Hemingway in one jump. This video shows how you can capture a lot in one second of film... 

'Alarm Clock/Money Shredder' - good idea for those who have difficulty motivating themselves to wake up http://lifehac.kr/n76Kz9


The Thought Gang - Tibor Fischer, Submarine - Joe Dunthorne, Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer, Stuart: A Life Backwards - Alexander Masters

Special mention for 'Old Man Hoffman' who smashed out part 2 of the Left Hand of God Trilogy in 2011 - 'The Last Four Things'. The paperback out in 2012, if you've missed it, start with number one you won't be disappointed..

Boring 2011 was a conference, about Boring things, I went to this year it was great, and Boring, I think I will go to Boring 2012. Follow James Ward on Twitter for lots on interesting perspectives, and his blog, is a treat

This is inspiring and amazing, 'Dark side of the lens' Short film about surf photography -

Thanks to Kim for hooking me up with this, she does great work and can be followed here:

Uniqlo Socks:  I have not been paid by Uniqlo to write this but I crowd-sourced some sock opinions on Twitter; after realising all the socks I buy are crap and get holes in them. Uniqlo emerged the most popular, and I can see why. Three months in these bad boys are going from strength to strength, I'm wearing some right now.

IMAG0339 - Sophia,White
IMAG0339 - Sophia,White

Riding bikes - I love riding a bicycle, get one in 2012 if you don't have one already.

Try and listen to this song and not smile - http://bit.ly/jMSWLx Owiny Sigoma Band: Wires

My favourite album from last year was Lucky Shiner by Gold Panda, and I'll leave you with some of my favourite xylophone work from 2011

Here's to a good 2012, I'll try to write some more stuff, Also here's my new website, http://thomhoffman.co.uk it has some videos and whatnot on there.

Thanks for hanging out here in 2011 



Cereal and Celebrity


On Sunday I was waiting to go to a pub quiz in Gospel Oak, I didn't fancy going home so I killed some time in a weird little shop in Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is an interesting area, it is home to the brilliant Museum of Everything, a great little museum, unlike any other museum I've been to, it includes such things as this

You should definitely go, it's free entry, but the kind of free entry where you will give a donation after regardless because it's so fun.

Primrose Hill is also home to lots of famous faces. I am disturbingly good at remembering celebrity faces. It's a real curse. I wish I could speak French, or snowboard, but I can't. I can, however, recognise Liz [Hyacinth Bucket's neighbour from Keeping up Appearances] from about 500 yards. Anyway, it's a big celebrity area, lots of actresses and actors and famous people.


At nearby Chalk Farm station I once approached Adam Shaw to ask if I could do Work Experience on lunchtime business TV favourite - Working Lunch. He said it didn't work that way at the BBC anymore, but that he admired my gusto, it was the first of many BBC-based rejections.

I don't like celebrity faces, I don't think we should care less about what they get up to, If I see someone reading Heat magazine [other abominable awful heinous waste of paper publications are available] I feel weeping for all that is good in this world, then like slapping them, throwing their mag out of the window and giving them a cuddle.

But some celebs do live in Primrose Hill and this became clear when I saw a packet of breakfast cereal which cost £8.95. This wasn't like Uzbek Mountain Granola or something either, this was a packet of Lucky Charms

Wikipedia says 'Lucky Charms consist of two main components: toasted oat-based pieces and multi-colored marshmallow bits (marbits) in various shapes, the latter making up over 25 percent of the cereal's volume'

It sounds good, I mean marbits is up there with tofurkey [tofu and turkey], and wholphin [offspring of a whale and dolphin] as far as exciting portmanteaus go.

But it doesn't seem like £8.95's worth.

It has a big cult status in the States, but has never made it over here. I don't think the UK has a comparison, maybe imagine if the Coco Pops Monkey mated with Tony the Tiger, and the Honey Monster. The combo would get nearer the status of the Lucky Charm, plus you'd get some sort of great portmanteaud offspring [I propose Tonoco the Hongermonkey] . I think this cereal caters for nostalgic Hollywood expatriates or to aid the transition of their displaced children.

I have never eaten a Lucky Charm, but I tweeted a photo of this expensive box, and got lots of feedback.


MY favourite bit of feedback was this

I, of course said YES.

He packed them and posted them on Monday [left], I received and opened them on Tuesday [right]


I waited until Wednesday to taste them.

Wednesday morning I awoke with a cold and anxiously headed to the Kitchen. I went with the classic cereal+ milk option, and it worked they were good. I can't lie, these marbits really deliver a morning boost.

It's real nice of @HeyMercedes to post me food,  twitter is so great when people get involved. If the world did more twitter fun and less free newspapers and celebrity magazines the world would be way better.

I learned a lot about narrative when doing my degree, and there is a narrative arc that must be resolved. Would I pay £8.95 for a box of cereal?

In the imaginary, somewhat scandinavian, country I live in in my mind, this pricing strategy would be extended to most things that are bad for you. It seems to make sense. An £8.95 price tag probably sees me consuming these at exactly the right rate. I can't help but feel this shouldn't be a breakfast cereal, 25% marbit ratios and breakfast, just probably should not go together.

I probably would not pay £8.95, I did however, find some on the internet, for slightly cheaper, this ruins my narrative arc, but is information, and I'm all about open disclosure here. If I do get some, I'll let you know and maybe I'll post you some.

If anyone wants to develop some breakfast cereals with me I will consider licensing Tonoco the Hongermonkey. I have some other ideas too, Krunchy Katflapz, Wheat cordurouy, Tiny morning fun potatoes.


Free bonus breakfast recipe:

Well my traditional breakfast routine is as follows

half a cup of frozen raspberries/blueberries/mango/pineapple/kiwi fruits

a quarter cup of  granola

some yoghurt

some sort of juice

I use the amazing Kenwood Smoothie 2 Go machine - what a gadget, it's a cup and a smoothie maker -IT'S LIKE LIVING IN THE FUTURE, a beautiful beautiful future, a definite recommendation from Culture Badger, I sometimes have one for pudding too, because I can.

Follow @heymercedes on twitter, and check out his record label -Walnut Tree Records


Goodbye Young Person's Railcard


Goodbye Young Person's Railcard

This blog is about ageing  which is a tricky topic for a 26 year old to write about, especially one who can still dismiss a charity mugger with a, disturbingly believable, claim to be 16. Anyway, next week is a significant event. My young person's railcard expires, I got it extended during my dip back into studentdom in 2008. Whilst not exactly the end of a free ride, 1/3 off journeys are over for me and a world of borderline reasonable train fares becomes a world of depressingly inflation-hit limitations. So yeah, it feels like a good time to take stock. A lot of stuff is changing, my first two girlfriends are now married, my best friend growing up is engaged, and me, well my young person's railcard has expired.

When I was growing up, I thought my life would be sorted by the age of 25. At the age of 21 I rapidly readjusted this figure, changing it from a number to more of an abstract concept.

The way I judge age is how it sounds in your mind to hear your Dad saying the following sentence: 'Thom [or insert your own name here] you're 26 now...[insert your own age here]' before calling you up on some mistake you just made. I'm nearly 27 and

'Thom your 27 now, you can't spend a month writing a tv pilot about a detective duo called 'Health and Safety''.

That's just hard to argue with

I went to Bestival, after receiving a free ticket in exchange for driving a van. Three of my favourite things there were as follows

a) Mr Motivator (58 years old, birthday on 14/11, happy birthday for then Mr Motivator) - it was incredible b) David 'RamJam' Rodigan - (60 and absolutely SMASHED his ragga-tipped dubstep set) c) The Women's Institute Tea and Cake tent (impolite to ask age, but what an awesome bunch of ladies!)

David Rodigan particularly is an example of the importance of mindset. And Motivator is a the exception that proves the rule about men and spandex.

I recently heard the word 'screenager' once I had stopped vomiting all over everything, I composed myself and thought about what sort of difference a few years can make. I probably don't count as a screenager, because google wasn't around when I was growing up. Some people had mobile phones but not many, and they didn't do much.

I'm pretty sure that Facebook would have made an impact on my life if it had been around, but I didn't join until I was 21. If I'd been on it from the age of 16 it would have been full of me writing complete crap [I know it is anyway, but even more so]. My diary is testament to that. Here is a verbatim quote from the old diary when I was about 16

'when I look back at life I want to say, I lived the bitch'

What in the name of sweet crimities was I thinking?

I would probably have looked after my appearance a bit more, as reams of tagged photographs poured in, and my ability to construct my persona became a more tangible project.

With regard to homework, something like google translate, quora, and wikipedia would have been everything I'd dreamed about, and a desire to mendaciously benefit from various sources would have been pretty strong, I wonder how I would have adapted.

I recently explained defriending to my nan, she said I should get off Facebook, I said she should stop reading the Daily Mail, we are probably both right.

So yeah no more young person's railcard, if I want to avoid having to spend like £100 to get to Swindon then I need to organize myself. I'll now need to book in advance, and hence plan. These are two of my least favourite activities. (this does not apply to work stuff though, I'm totes a professional OBVS)

That's probably not worthy of a blog post, but I raise a glass to the people who have multiple babies and husbands/wives and are younger than me, and the 60 year olds dropping heavy dubstep beats of a Saturday evening, and everyone in between. No excuses, whatever the digits are let's push things forward.


Advice from my Dad

1) 'Never wear a hat that's cooler than you are', as you may remember from a previous blog post about radio baseball caps - I ignored this advice 2) 'Buy the best mattress you can afford - If I ever do buy my own mattress I will certainly think about heeding this advice'

Things I didn't enjoy about Bestival 1) Driving a van, I'm not a van driver, as described above I look a bit like Michael Cera's younger brother, I did not earn the respect of the white van community'


'I thought of that while riding my bicycle.' ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity


'I thought of that while riding my bicycle.' ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

For about two years I have been figuring that I should ride a bike. This was emphasised when I tried to get car insurance, discovering that it would set me back £2500, ouch. As a 20-something middle-class white male, I have never really felt the effect of discrimination, but, in the words of the Miami bass group 'Tag Team': 'Whoomp there it is'. Anyway, I certainly wouldn't want to drive through central London ever, it's stressful, dull, expensive and takes ages. However, urban cycling has always had an element of danger, which I've never been comfortable with. Sure I've wrestled with as many existential crises as the next man, but I'd like to continue to wrestle where possible, something which would be difficult If my comparitavely small head was hit by a relatively robust van.

Anyway one day I was cutting some Ivy off my parents house when a small kid comes up to me with a leaflet for his missing cat; asking me to check in the shed. His leaflet did not have a hipstagram photo of his cat, unlike my North London friend with a similar feline issue recently, but I decided to look anyway.

There was no cat, and apologies dear reader, but I don't know its fate. However, in the old shed, with its rotting caved in ceiling, I did find my dad's old racing bike. He bought it second hand at some point in the early 80s, so it's probably from the 1970s. It certainly looked it.

The Bike - Feel free to give it a name

The Bike - Feel free to give it a name

As my dad has not ridden this bike in at least 15 years, I figured I would be allowed to have it, even though it was in a bit of a state. He relented, pleased that it would see some use. My mum gave me the sort of look that said 'that rusty old deathtrap will be the end of you' but in her ever-tolerant way just said 'be careful!'.

I pushed the bike up the hill and headed from leafy zone 9 back to my house in the less leafy zone 2.

I looked up independent bike shops on the internet and found some interesting places. One venue was booked for repairs for 2 months! Keen to push on I kept looking and found another shop in Chalk Farm called Simpson's Cycles. I booked my bike in and dropped it round the next morning. He said it was a nice bike and I could easily spend several hundred pounds on getting it done up. I said I quite liked the rust-covered 1920's history-teacher beige look that the bike had developed, and just wanted it to be roadworthy. He ended up fixing up the gears, replacing the cables, giving it a full service which in the end cost me around £90. It was great, fixed in one afternoon, and I rode the bike home.

It's up there with the best £90 I've spent. I figure I save about £40-50 a week by cycling rather than getting trains. I've cancelled my gym membership. I'm no maths guy but that stuff just adds right up. I'm the fittest I've ever been and find it easier to get up in the morning. Aside from these benefits, it's just fun! Kids love riding bicycles around, and I can see why, it's like you get to have a play whilst going to work. I was a bit worried because I am not a morning person, I'm barely an afternoon person, and so I was a bit anxious about facing off with traffic first thing in the morning. It's really not that bad, Motorists are really quite aware of cyclists, and there have been big improvements in bus lanes and cycle routes. It's not perfect, I've had people open car doors on me, and a couple of near misses, but if you keep your wits about you, and wear the right clothes and take your time, it's pretty easy*.

I reckon cycling counts as culture, hence making it into the blog, and the government is currently targeting a 400% increase in London cycling from 2001 levels, by 2026. There are lots of good focussed cycling blogs, to help you get started. Here are a couple:

At War with the Motorist

The London Cyclist

There is some level of risk to cycling, but there is also a different risk to a sedentary lifestyle that is also indisputable. The Boris Bike, Barclay's Cycle Hire Scheme is a great way to go and have a go. Even if you are not registered you can pitch up to any of the cycle hire points, pay a solitary pound, and ride unlimited bikes for 24 hours. Before I got my bike, I rode one home, kept it in the hallway, then rode it to work the next morning. That's probably unorthodox but it's within the rules! It's amazing, try it out and cycling your route might seem a more viable, less scary, option.

*If I do die please don't drag this up in any irony-filled tabloid stories about my demise, and preferably use a nice photo, one of the ones I've used as a profile picture on Facebook, not just one I've been tagged in, because, probably it's going to make me look bad. Definitely don't use my driving license.





I have always loved audio. When I was ten I had several incarnations of a Baseball Cap Radio bought from Boots.

It was a basic AM/FM radio sewn into a baseball cap. And I would fall asleep listening to Caesar the Geezer and James Whale on TalkSport. These are probably not healthy influences to be flying around the mind of a primary school kid; but speech radio has always had the power to take me away. A good podcast puts you in the conversation and flows through you. I still love radio but the flexibility of podcasts is great.

The BBC has a great range of podcasts, with more shows being moved over to podcast each week, but I wanted to put some slightly less familiar stuff on here, so here are a few of my favourites, these consistently make it into my phone, and then into my brain.

The Bugle – absolute weekly staple, the best. I have no idea how this possibly worked with regard to their relationship with the Times [ N.B IT DIDN'T WORK IN THE END] but podcast now independent, and still going. It’s satirical, it’s cutting and is responsible for a worrying contribution to my understanding of international affairs. Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver do it better than anyone else, just download it, snort unattractively on the train and make people jealous that your having this much fun.

From off the wall approaches to jokes, to Off the Wall approaches to media. Off The Wall Post is the audio child of some BBC and freelance digital producers and gives a funny, understated, not-taking-itself-too-seriously take on the latest developments in the social and new media. They have a section on Wanky Words, to highlight any dubious wordology that may be floating around the new media world, and often the show itself. Ideapreneur anyone...?

Daniel Ruiz Tizon has been podcasting for around a year now, originally starting under the name Please Don’t Hug Me, the show was recorded on a Blackberry in various hotels and borrowed locations. It’s now recorded on a laptop in Daniel’s flat in Stockwell which changes the shows sound, but not the style. You won’t hear this stuff on mainstream radio. Describing himself as half man half P45, he has sporadically worked as a writer and a temp, and has charted his difficult last year with humour. For a flavour of his style check out his blog post: Moment’s In my life I could’ve done without part 1. This show always ends up on my mp3 player. If you’ve listened to David Sedaris on Radio4, it’s a bit like that, except if David Sedaris lived off the Lambeth Road in SW8, which is a big exception.

NPR Music podcasts. NPR is the closest thing America has to BBC and it puts out some awesome content.

All Songs Considered – All their ‘best of’ shows from the last few years have introduced me to some great music. And as well as the best of’s’ they have a range of different themes, Songs that make you sad, make you happy, Bands you've broken up with, British DJs, electronic music etc...

Tiny Desk Concerts – NPR looks like a fun place to work, they have a series of ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’ basically gigs played in the office. From Tom Jones, to Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, It’s the sort of office-fun I can only taste after forgetting to turn my phone to silent on a Monday morning. Video podcast and audio rips. For a video taster check out - HOME

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUZOo3pScXY&w=560&h=345]

Radiolab – Science radio with a difference, innovative production style, Radiolab has adjusted to digital audio better than any other science show I can think of. Sometimes it might grate a bit, but it’s the best show for making you think and taking you on a journey. Some of my favourite episodes are Parasites, Detective Stories, War of the Worlds, the full archive can be found here.

So yeah get involved, try out some podcasts, and if you have any other good ones, please share them because I’m always keen to find more. Either that or I might buy another radio hat and try and write a book about my experiences of a year wearing it. I’m banking that idea, publisher’s interested please get in touch.

Daniel Ruiz Tizon @1607WestEgg The @Offthewallpost crew @dogwinters@barrypilling@article_dan

Andy Zaltzman @hellobuglers@zaltzcricket

and me @thomhoffman