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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 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


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 - 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, it has some videos and whatnot on there.

Thanks for hanging out here in 2011 


'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.