A rap for good old Diogenes

Good old Diogenes
Walked around with a lit lamp 
In full sun and daylight
"Have you lost your precious sight?"
Asked a humble and honest tramp
"Ah no, I am looking for an honest man
And I think I've found him
in you, you're the champ."   


Rapping the Solstice

Here's a Solstice RAP I composed to mark tomorrow

t'is the Season to be Jolly
everyone is after your money
doesn't matter
if you buy Milk or Honey
for me the SUN
is Queen Bee
and LIFE for free
Merry Winter Solstice!


"Space Troubadour" launches tomorrow

Special Mission Patch for Astronaut Chris Hadfield, 
in shape of guitar pick.  It has a place of honour on our wall, a gift from Chris.

Tomorrow fellow international Circumnavigator Club friend, astronaut Chris Hadfield, will lift off from Kazahkstan in a Soyuz space capsule to rendez-vous with the International Space Station, for 6 monthsThree months of which he will be mission Commander.  This will be Chris' third time in space.  'Luck to You'! Space Troubadour, my name for this amazing individual.  You can follow Commander Chris Hadfield on Twitter here.


Here are the four Thai pitched gongs

It was an extraordinary performance yesterday of my fairy tale THE ICY CRYSTAL SEE THROUGH NO NAME MAN by Music Corner ensemble, with original music by Anna Hostman.  Good turnout with lots of very young children. More pictures to come.  Meanwhile, here are the four well-travelled Thai pitched gongs that came over to Victoria by float plane from the Vancouver Symphony.


Music Corner World Premiere DEC 8th

You Are Invited

Mark Your Calendar 
Saturday, December 8th, 2012
World Premiere performance by Music Corner
 A musical adventure for young children 
based on the story by artist Henri van Bentum

WHEN: Saturday, December 8, 2012
TIME: Two performances only, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
WHERE: Victoria Conservatory of Music, Wood Hall 
(entrance at 900 Johnson Street), Victoria, B.C.
TICKETS: Children $12, Adults $15 
Available by phone at Conservatory (250) 386-5311

And At The Door
Original Music Composed by Anna Hostman

Music Corner Ensemble:  Christopher Taber, Masako Hockey, Rebecca Hissen, Marcus Hissen

The brightness that leaps from his canvasses is that of crystals seen through a microscope.
TIME Magazine, review of Henri van Bentum solo exhibition in Paris, France




Posts from 2008 - 2012

Please scroll to end of this page (left corner), to find earlier posts, going back to summer 2008.


Lionel Messi - a wizard, poet and humble genius on the grass pitch

With all the world’s negative news nowadays, here now is something different and uplifting.  Being a life-long aficionado of the beautiful game of Associated Football (in North America named “soccer”), this game has provided me with some memorable recalls of plays, moments and players.   

There are always those who stand out, the crème that rises to the top in any sport.
However, I have to dig deep into the chambers of my little grey cells to find a display of sheer magic like the performance of wizard Lionel Messi, the 24 year old Argentine superstar who plays for FC Barcelona. It makes you wonder if we’ll ever see another one like him this century.
Messi mesmerizes, baffles, bewitches and bewilders anyone who challenges him for the ball, and bothers goalies who shiver and pray when suddenly Messi comes face to face with them.  Such as in yesterday’s match against Bayer Leverkusen from Germany in a Champions League match. Twice Messi came face to face with goalie Leno and on both occasions Messi - in what seemed nonchalantly – gave a brilliant example of the superb technique he possesses -  lifted the ball over the keeper into the empty net. One goal with his left foot, and one with his right foot.
Messi can dribble not 1 but 4 or 5 opponents into a state of frenzy with his dazzling, unpredictable moves, scoring in any position or from any angle -  from free kicks (now called set pieces), not to speak of his superb dead-on passes -  to passes that sometimes even leave his teammates scratching their heads or apologizing when they do not ‘get it’.  Yesterday’s end result:  Barcelona 7 – Leverkusen 1.  Oh, and this wunderkind scored a mere five goals.  A record in the Champions League history.  Already this Messi/ah has won the coveted Golden Ball for the world’s best player of the year, three times.  It is not my nature to elaborate in my blog posts on the game, but watching Messi is so uplifting an experience I like to share his extraordinary handling of the ball, his humility, instinct and enthusiasm for the game. 
Rare enough in these days of prima donnas and mega-salaried participants in the game.
Watching this “kid”, no matter how dark and cloudy it is, always brings blue skies and sunshine into your life. 
We hope to see this display of awe and wonder presented and created by Lionel Messi the Magician for more years to come. 


Creative ideas are everywhere. All we need to do is have inspiration and imagination. Look, see and follow-up.  Act. We thought up the idea to have 'captured moments' of these tulips, in chronological order.  Day-by-day over one week . . . something different to face the winter 'blahs' and awaiting the coming spring. Here is "every other day", unfolding.


Ann Southam composition "Simple Lines of Enquiry" , performed by Eve Egoyan

Sunday night Natasha and I were at Alix Goolden Hall (Victoria Conservatory of Music) for a recital by Eve Egoyan who performedSimple Lines of Enquiry” by Canadian composer and dear friend Ann Southam, who went over the horizon November 25, 2010 at her home. The friendship between Eve and Ann must have come from Euterpe, the Muse of Music. The work is approximately 60 minutes long and a very delicate, difficult piece to play. Eve, who obviously loves Ann’s work, played sublimely.

Here is what Ann Southam has to say about “Simple Lines of Enquiry”:  “Through the application of simple minimalist procedures to a 12-tone row, or more accurately a 12-interval row, Simple Lines of Enquiry is a gentle, contemplative exploration of the emotional possibilities of these intervals and the sonorities they create, and the sound world and resonances of the piano itself.”

 I’ve seldom if ever mentioned Ann Southam in previous posts because in her lifetime she was very humble and didn’t sound her own trumpet.  Now that she is no longer with us, except through her legacy of music which will live on, I can speak more freely of our friendship.

It all began in autumn 1959. I had arrived on Canadian shores in October 1957 as an immigrant from Holland, and settled in Toronto.  In the spring of 1959 a specialist doctor, Wilfred S. Goodman, sponsored an unforgettable journey to Banff National Park, where I became the first-ever guest artist at the School of Fine Arts. This episode has already been posted in an early blog.  All my work of that period I donated to Dr. Goodman.

Back in Toronto in autumn 1959, I lived in the Annex on Walmer Road and rented a bachelor apartment in a house, on the first floor, facing the front, with a bay window. Ann Southam came by every morning in her Navy blue limousine to fetch another student in the master piano class given by Pierre Souverain. It was on Walmer Road where we first met.  We became close friends.

Ann replaced Dr. Goodman as my benefactor by helping me keep my head above water.  Dr. W.S. Goodman no longer sponsored me because in his words “You have gone over my head, Henri, and beyond my understanding with your work”. Slowly but surely it had evolved from ‘landscape to mindscape’.

Ann Southam however viewed this change differently.  She supported me 100% and without her I don’t know what I would have done back then in the fledgling contemporary art scene of the early 1960’s in Toronto.

There is an old saying, “Experience it, so you know”.  Same here, if you wish to know about Ann Southam’s work and the performances by Eve Egoyan (a true ambassador of Ann Southam’s legacy), then we need to listen to the music which is a superb form of minimalism.


Seven Seas & Amazing 16-year old Circumnavigator (solo)

We’ve been asked our thoughts about the Costa Concordia situation.  It is a tragedy. Having been at least 30 times on ocean liners and cruise ships (and not including my days with Holland America Line as a First Class steward in the late 1940’s), I guess people are curious because of our experience on the 7 seas.
I’ve been in two shipwrecks.  One, in April 1961, aboard a 60 foot sloop en route to Greece from the island of Ibiza. We were shipwrecked off the coast of Sicily in the sirocco winds.

The other, aboard the legendary “Cristobol Carrier” en route from Guayaquil, Ecuador to the Galapagos in May 1969. That shipwreck occurred in the early hours of the morning. The captain was drunk and no one was on the bridge. But we’ve had no problems or mishaps aboard all the other ships.   We still think they’re safe, if you can use that word in general when it concerns travel.
Speaking of the seas and sailing, how about the 16-year old girl from Holland?  Laura Dekker is almost at the end of a solo circumnavigation around the world. Here is the link to her official site. She’s due to arrive back tomorrow on the island of St. Maarten, from where she departed January 20, 2011. You’d think she’d be getting a hero’s welcome in Holland?  Well, yes, everyone except the Government that is.  The Minister of Education claims she did not continue her school education since she took off in the middle of a school season. They may punish her. So, guess, what? 

The intrepid Laura Dekker says, “If that’s the case, I will not return to Holland.” Challenging the seven seas, solo, what she has done, amounts to a true education. Speaking for myself, my school education ended when I was 10, due to the outbreak of WWII. Granted she will not get a diploma, neither did I, yet I speak six languages and have been around the world three times.  Not bad for someone with no “education”. Goes to show you how seriously the Netherlands Government considers completion of one’s education. To Laura, we say "Yes, well done!  Bravo!  Chapeau!


A rare heavy snowfall

Our visiting sea lion (see two posts below) hasn't appeared for awhile. Must have anticipated the Arctic airflow. By now maybe he's back in balmy Monterey, to play.  Victoria has been pummelled by a good layer of snow. Thermometer outside shows -9C.  Usually we have one or two light days of snow, mostly the wet kind mixed with a sprinke of rain. However, one crocus has presented itself on the front lawn, saying "Here I am, snow or no snow!"  Is Nature not amazing?


Year of the Water Dragon

Soon we’re entering another “New Year”, this time it will be Year of the Water Dragon, celebrated in the Orient and by immigrants settled on these shores. 

Twelve years ago, we were on a millennium world voyage aboard “Ocean Explorer I” where I conducted a floating art class and was resident guest artist.  One of the many ports of call was Bali, Indonesia.  There, we acquired this masterful woodcarving of a dragon, since 2000  was also Year of the Dragon.  It is very small, only 14 cm high and 7 cm wide. For 12 years we’ve had it on display at our various abodes. Back in 2000 when we purchased the carving, I said  that should I still be alive in the year 2012, we’d mark the occasion by honouring the humble woodcarver who created this striking piece. 

Look at the intricate carving, the detail, the teeth - -  all carved from  one piece of wood.  Bravo! Over the past 12 years technology jumped by leaps and bounds. Little did we know twelve years later that Natasha could take a picture with her mobile phone and post it on a blog.   Amazing technology.   (The photo concept was mine.)   Twelve years onward to the next Dragon year (2024) would make me 95 years of age, so it’s realistic to say I’ll not be here any longer on spaceship Ocean Earth.   Wishing you all a healthy New Year.


In our neighbourhood by the sea

From balmy and lush Hawaii, home again to moist, cool and sometimes foggy climes - - - trademarks of Victoria winters.   This does not seem to bother the wildlife, especially Hummingbirds.  And the New Year brought a new (for us) visitor to our shore off Dallas Road.  We spotted a large Sea Lion snoozing on a rock just 75 metres from our door.  The last day or so she’s made it her home.   

Since we don’t see them often out of the water at this time of year, the lyrics about “Monterey, where the seals and mantas play” came to mind. Sometimes an Eagle settles down to rest awhile, along with a few of those Hummingbirds doing their acrobatic manoeuvres, accompanied by an energy that seems perpetual.  We’re told they need to take in huge amounts of nectar to offset all this use of energy.  Meanwhile let’s see if our lone Sea Lion is still there tomorrow. In the meanwhile here is a photo.


It's been awhile - and now for something different

It has been quite awhile since our last post.  With all the worldly goings-on, sometimes one wishes to be silent, amidst all the noise and drama.  Just returned from a memorable, "free Vitamin D" sailing, circumnavigating the Hawaiian islands.  

Appreciate having the good health in order to do so.  Highlights were:

  • the Waimea Canyon, Kaui
  • Hamela'uma'u crater with a huge, billowing plume of sulphur dioxide, Big Island
  • an amazing Banyan Tree in Lahani, Maui - at first it looks like a dozen trees, but then we discovered everything is an offshoot from one, main tree
  • ten days of fresh sea-air
  • seasonal decorations aboard ship, including a complete gingerbread village.