I bought just one item this time around: Hard ‘n Heavy Volume 5 on VHS tape. Take a look at that cover; cost me 50¢. The back cover, though, is what made me sacrifice the pocket change. On it, I saw a tiny picture of King Diamond and the promise of an interview with he, the Danish Supreme Being of operatic black horror metal, himself an avowed Satanist. I obsessed about him as a teen and to this day I struggle to live with myself through annual bouts of dork-metal nostalgia, during which I cue up lurid cassette tapes that haven’t seen daylight in a dozen moons. Those same dark impulses forced this VHS purchase upon me.
A morning or two later, I watched the interview portion of the tape with a sickening fascination; it reminded me of how badly I had longed long ago to see video of King Diamond, concert footage, anything; I listened, later, to Abigail, his masterpiece 2nd album; on YouTube I watched subtitled Danish TV clips of King Diamond being interviewed while my frozen pizza dinner baked in the oven. And that was when King Diamond, sans ghoulish face-paint and being grilled by the host for his unseemly religious preference, informed me and a million Denmark TV viewers of the late 80s that “Satan” means “opposite.”
He’s right, you know. “Satan” does come from a Hebrew word that means “to oppose.” Fair enough. Satan does oppose a lot of stuff in general.
Now ever since I first ate it, I thought that seitan,–that suspicious, not bad-tasting, opposite-of-meat stuff you get at vegetarian places–was hilariously named. I mean it is pronounced “SAY-tan.” C’mon now: the irony! We eat SAY-tan so we can all feel nicer and kinder and gentler to cows and stuff. And I’ve always wondered where that unfortunate food name came from. Well, it turns out that the word “seitan” is a Japanese neologism meaning, loosely, “is protein.” What would you have done next? Me, I needed intensely to know the origin of the word “protein.”
The word “protein,” it seems, is from a Greek word meaning “of first importance.” But of course! Who would want to live a day without it? Not me. But I would like to add those two word origins together…add ’em up and find out that “seitan”–or “is protein”–really means “is of first importance.” And there you have the reason I wrote this entry.
Say it with me now, preferably with a sing-song, kindergarten lilt: “SAY-tan is of first importance.”
I bet King Diamond would be so proud.