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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Timpo! Ultimate High-Grade Time Travel Fuel

The Lab moved to north San Diego county in 2006. Prior to that, we lived in Los Angeles for ten years, while I was in graduate school. When we came here, and people asked where we were from, the conversation almost invariably went something like this:

Other Person: "Where did you live before this?"
Me: "We lived in Los Angeles for about ten years."
Other Person: "Oh, you must feel so happy to have escaped!"

There is a powerful assumption in this area that people would only live in LA under severe duress or as a hostage. Los Angeles is seen as some sort of alternate hell-dimension, 75 miles north, which any sane person would go to great lengths to avoid.

When I would respond with something along the lines of "Actually, we enjoyed it a lot", I could see the other person's amygdalae light up all the way down in the temporal lobe. I had become the Other, a slavering beast who must be watched carefully, lest my contagion be spread by bite or claw. In a few sympathetic cases, I think I was regarded as suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. So let me get this right out here:
I loved LA. I loved the incredible diversity of people and cultures. I loved the museums, symphonies, and operas. I loved the fact that you could hear five languages by walking five miles, and get any kind of food you could image by driving twenty minutes. Are there bad things about LA? Of course. Nobody likes traffic like that, the air isn't so hot, and inland it can get pretty miserable in the summer. No question, there are problems, but it's a wonderful place.

I like north county San Diego too! We can afford a house and yard here, and we can grow an enormous variety of fruits and vegetables all year round. When my relatives from Kansas visit, they are always jealous of the fact that "growing season" around here is effectively January to December. There's a lot of green space here, and most of the parking is free.

But we love LA too.

In fact, the other day the Lab staff took a trip up to the Echo Park area of LA, as Olorin was attending a writing workshop. And, as it turns out, this workshop was hosted by a rather remarkable organization called 826LA, who have taken the concept of Weirdness to new heights. For example, the workshop was hosted at their location...which is a market selling supplies for time travelers.

This is very promising for one such as I.

Seeing this, I reached the conclusion that Weirdness--maybe even in soda form--could be had within. Upon entering, I found that they sold a variety of useful items for the time traveller, such as Caveman Stationery (cement blocks), anti-evil-robot weaponry (magnets for erasing hard drives), and barbarian repellent (a spray listing ingredients such as "culture", "ballet", and "deodorant"). My Quaffmastery inclinations were thrilled to see a slurpee machine, but alas, it was out of order.

All was not lost, however. In a cooler at the back, I did find what I believe to be a Weird soda. At least, I think it's a soda. It's definitely Weird.

I handed over my money (I wonder if they would accept currency from other time periods?) and became the proud owner of a three-liter bottle of "Timpo! Ultimate High-Grade Time Travel Fuel".

Really, I have no choice but to buy this. None.

Now, you can probably see why I could not possibly pass this up. Here I had an opportunity to quaff a soda which might not even, technically speaking, exist at the time I was quaffing it, as it had not yet been invented! Such things do not happen every day. My geek mind gleefully dove into the array of possibilities as if it were a playground ball pit in which the balls were, in fact, round Cheetos. I had images of sharing a glass of Timpo! with Marty McFly under the sheltering arch of the Guardian of Forever.
On the other hand, there was nothing on this bottle which conformed that it was actually soda, or any other sort of drinkable liquid. It could be antifreeze, for all I knew. No ingredients list was provided; instead, there was a blurb which read:

Face it: Running out of time machine fuel is the worst. Not only does it make you late, but it also leaves you even more vulnerable to sudden dinosaur attacks.

The cap does say "Shasta", though, so I'm hpoing for the best. Or at least not to die.

Where and when: Purchased September 2011 at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, 1714 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, CA.
Color: Yellow-green, almost exactly the same shade as Mountain Dew. Scent: Very sweet, almost candy-ish. A bit like cotton candy. Almost no citrus or tang in the smell.
Taste: Very, very sweet. Like the smell, just a hint of candyish lime, but not sour at all. More like lime jelly candy. Almost no carbonation, just a hint of bubble bite.
The sweet is nearly overwhelming. Apparently, hummingbirds are time travelers.
Aftertaste is not especially pleasant--the sweet/lime is persistent, but a vaguely oily feeling creeps up from the back of the mouth about fifteen seconds in. It carries just a hint of something bitter. I'm not sure why, but I want to call the taste "nostalgic". Perhaps it's the temporal dislocation. The feeling is worse than the taste.

Honestly, I can't say that I'd recommend this as a soda. It's lacking in character and subtlety; there's nothing very distinctive about it. It's just a very sweet, vaguely lime-y, slightly carbonated liquid. On the other hand, it's time machine fuel, which increases its awesomeness factor as an object d'art. This is best enjoyed as a conversation piece; once it's opened and decanted, it loses what makes it special.

I do recommend a trip to the Time Travel Mart on its own merits. Plus, they do good writing tutoring.

Aftertaste update: a few minutes later, the oily feeling is still there, only now it tastes worse. Blech.

Quaff rating: 1.5. Not very pleasant.
Cough rating: 1.5. The aftertaste and texture is icky.
Special Weirdness bonus (not factored into the Index): 1.0. It's time machine fuel.


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