Posts Tagged Artificial Heart

Valet de cœur


Magnetic poetry giving HeartValet's rhyming slogan in French: 'simple, indolore, et plus encore. J'adore' which roughly translates to 'simple, painless, and more; I love [it].'

Do you love your partner but wish you didn’t have to put up with their bad habits or allergy-provoking pets?

Are you sick of chasing love only to have your heart broken?

Do you prefer relaxing alone to dragging yourself out on dates, but wish you had someone to love once in a while?

Did the love of your life walk out on you after your father’s funeral last week, taking your cat and the last roll of toilet paper, and proclaiming he liked how generous you were to him and loved being invited to such family gatherings where he could see your smoking-hot mother, but the way you always scratched your ear when you were thinking was driving him nuts?

We have the solution. With the patented HeartValet system, you’ll always feel loved. HeartValet is a precisely controlled, individually tailored, automatic delivery system of your friends oxytocin, vasopressin, and the perfect blend of nineteen other natural love potions just like the ones your body makes in the best stages of love. We’ve taken the body’s unpredictable mess of love hormones and perfected them into the smooth sailing that you deserve. But that’s not all; HeartValet integrates with a HugVest that automatically stimulates your C-tactile network whenever you need it. Users of HeartValet are proven to be up to 42% happier, and live up to five years longer or more.

Pregnant women and chronically ill people are advised to find a partner who will assist them with their physical needs. HeartValet is not suitable as a complete source of affection for infants.

Toya self-consciously stopped scratching her ear, and mentally cursed targeted advertising. And she wondered why, with all the information it had about her, it still seemed to be consistently targeted at idiots. She knew what ‘up to’ meant, and she wasn’t desperate enough to buy their cheesy fake love. Toya had never been a fan of artificial emotions, injected into her mind with no external cause. Even alcohol freaked her out a little. Even the smoother-than-nature hormones from her contraceptive implant. HeartValet was just a blow-up doll for the soul. How dare they imply she needed it… how dare they…

Toya looked down to see her ice cream had cruelly melted while her attention was imprisoned by the dumb ad. The spoon made a goddamn irritating noise when she threw it into the bowl, then it bounced out and spattered melted ice cream all over her. She began to cry.

Are you crying into your Rocky Road after a recent breakup?

Do you wish there were an easier way to feel lov…

Toya swore and threw the terminal across the room. It had the gall to respond by breaking, trapping the irritatingly-cheerful voice in a loop and leaving Toya without a working terminal. She stomped out the door, more for somewhere to stomp and something to slam than anything else. The blasted lift wouldn’t come quickly enough, so she ran down the stairs until they made her tired and she had to lean against the wall to weep. The world was just a big ball of gravity bringing her down.

She managed to settle into a calmer state of self-pity, and mope down to the ground floor. Out into the bright sunlight, which made her sneeze. “Oh, go turn into a black hole!” she yelled at the Sun, and resumed her stomping.

She passed a group of creative anachronists cooking old-time foods with a fire. One of them accosted her. “Would you like to try this grilled bell pepper?” he demanded.

“God no. Don’t you realise what you’re doing to your bodies?! Sure, it tastes nice for now, but you’ll never have the proper balance of nutrients. Don’t you idiots even see the warnings on the packaging? All sorts of diseases are linked to poor nutrition. Everyone knows that. You’re going to die younger, you know.”

She muttered ‘ovary-eaters!’ under her breath, and took a swig of delicious, nutritionally-balanced fluid from the nearest Soylent fountain to prove her point. It hurt her on its way past the lump in her throat.

“Would you put yourself at the controls of your home’s nuclear plant? Would you leave your nutrition up to the whims of taste and circumstances? Would you leave your emotional state at the mercy of…”

Toya swatted the advertising drone out of the way.

It righted itself and hovered back to her.

“You seem to be in an emotionally agitated state. Studies have shown that emotionally balanced people live up to five years longer or more. HeartValet: balanced nutrition for the soul.”

She ran away from it. It chased her through unfamiliar streets, with its calm voice helpfully pointing out each preventable spike in her temper. After a particularly irritating stretch, she stopped and faced it.

“Would you shut up?! My dad died and I’ve just been through a breakup. I really do not need you pestering me!”

Do you need a hug?

Toya’s rage turned back to tears, and she momentarily forgot the drone wasn’t sentient. “Yeah.”

HugVest can give you all the hugs you need, when you need them! Studies have shown that people who get enough hugs are up to 32% happier…

Toya sighed. “Oh, alright. If I get HeartValet, will you stop bugging me?”

With HeartValet, nothing will ever bug you again!

The drone swung its spotlight onto the logo of the HeartValet building, which was, to Toya’s surprise, right next to them. The curvaceous V formed a softly pulsating heart, which hung from a sturdy H-shaped support.

The automatic doors opened, inviting her in.

The receptionist’s smile was disarmingly genuine. “You must be Toya,” he said.

“Yeah, I…”

“You want to be fitted with a HeartValet? Not a problem. Just authorise the payment here and the Cupid will be with you shortly. Feel free to use the time to peruse these brochures about HeartValet and our carnal pleasure add-on packages available for a small extra charge.”

“Oh, I… don’t think I need that…” Toya was sure the carnal pleasure package was just rebranded old technology with a hefty price tag.

“I assure you, you will. They’re 25% off when purchased with a HeartValet.”

Toya ignored the receptionist and tried to ignore the preliminary price tag as she authorised the payment.

Finding nothing else to do, she flicked on a brochure, which spoke in the familiar overly-cheerful voice.

Hi, and congratulations on choosing the sensible path to lifelong love! We love having you here. In just a few minutes, your expert Cupid will come and sweep you off your feet and into the clinic to implant your HeartValet device. The implantation is performed under local anaesthetic, and is quick and painless. Your cupid will then run a few quick tests to ensure all your HeartValet’s chemical channels are working properly, and you’ll be ready to be fitted for a HugVest. To perfectly tailor your HeartValet’s functionality to your personal physiology, we will monitor your moods and blood chemistry for seven days in our luxurious Honeymoon Village. Don’t worry, this is all included in the price range you’ve already preauthorised.

You will also benefit from fantastic deals on our carnal pleasure packages, so you don’t miss the other side of having a romantic partner. We have devices that do things your previous lovers never imagined…

Toya flicked it off in exasperation, and seconds later a woman in a soft pink lab coat entered the room from the door marked ‘Cupid’s Lab’.

“Ah, I see you’ve finished with the introduction. Come with me and we’ll get started.”

Toya followed her into the ‘Lab’, which was much like an ordinary clinic: scanner bed, chair, desk. The walls were adorned with the standard medical qualifications, plus a Doctorate of Cupidity issued by the company’s HappyVersity, and the framed quote, “Tampering with their happiness circuits will invalidate the warranty” in an old-fashioned script befitting its turn-of-the-century authorship.

“Alright, we’ve already accessed your medical and behavioral history, and you’re the perfect candidate. If you’d just hold out your arm, we can get the implant in.”

The HeartValet implant went in without problems, the same way her contraceptive implant had.

“Perfect. Now if you’d just get onto the scanner bed so I can test a few functions, that would be lovely.”

Toya did as she was told.

“Okay, I’m going to test the channels on your implant using this remote here while the scanner checks what’s happening in your brain. You may feel some pretty powerful emotions, and I urge you to remember that these feelings are not toward me but caused by your HeartValet. At some love implant companies you’d be told it was love for God, but we’re a little more open about what we’re doing. Just interpret it as love for yourself, or love of biology, if that’s what floats your boat. But if you do slip up and profess your love for me, don’t worry, I’ve heard it all before.”

Toya laughed. She’d never profess her love for someone she’d just met.

The Cupid pressed a button, and Toya was in love. The ‘Cupid’ being the only viable object of affection she could see, Toya reached out to her. The Cupid expertly dodged her, and pressed another button. Toya soon returned to normal, and blushed at the realization of what she’d just done.

“Okay, that one works. By the way, can I interest you in our carnal pleasure add-on packages?”

“No thanks, I already said…” The Cupid pressed a button and suddenly carnal pleasure was all Toya could think about. “Uhhhh…” she moaned. Nurse fantasies suddenly made sense. “Yeah… I think I’ll take that…”

Another button, and Toya had the strong feeling that the Cupid loved her back.

They went through a few more tests, a few more feelings that Toya enjoyed enough that she didn’t care about the lack of external cause. Then they tried out the HugVest, which successfully tightened around her when a virtual reality game induced feelings of loneliness.

“Okay, we’re done with the initial tests! It’s all working perfectly. Don’t worry, in normal operation you won’t feel anything as sudden or as strong as that. The emphasis is on balance, and maintaining a feeling of love to keep you enjoying life when life is not doing its part.”

Toya was still buzzing a little, and wasn’t sure if it was an afterglow from the experiments or the normal operation of the implant. She nodded.

“So to make sure we get the right balance for your body, as you know, you’ll spend a week in our Honeymoon Village. This should also allow you to adjust to your new feelings while surrounded by people who understand you. You should find it quite relaxing, but don’t be alarmed if our staff or other patients upset you occasionally; it’s all to test the responses of the unit and your body. You’re going to feel great. Amy here will show you to your room.”

Amy took her down a corridor, which became a high walkway overlooking an atrium with gift shops, a casino, a swimming pool, and various real and virtual sports courts, “I didn’t bring a change of clothes!” Toya realised aloud, and immediately felt like she was wanted anyway.

“Don’t worry about it. A lot of people come here unprepared. There are some clean jumpsuits and swimwear in your room. Here it is: 216.” Amy led her into one of the rooms beside the walkway, showed her the amenities, and left.

Toya lay on her bed for a while, at first enjoying the solitude, then enjoying the feeling of being with a loved one that naturally took over when the solitude outstayed its welcome. The HugVest tightened ever so slightly.

Eventually she got up and wandered along the walkway, watching the courts. She felt a little more lost than usual watching the virtual games; it was hard to tell from people’s demeanor whether they were winning or losing.

She was startled by the feeling of fur against her ankle. A cat. Her cat! What was Molpy doing there? She patted him happily, feeling a rush of love she was sure was natural.

“Hey there, little Molpy! You’re a kitty! Yeah, you’re a fuzzy wuzzy wittle kit…”

“Hey!”

Toya looked up. “Alex?!”

“Toya! It is you. What are you doing here?”

“Recovering from you,” she said. The HugVest tightened slightly. It was only when saying those words that she realised she didn’t feel like she needed to recover any more.

“Fair enough,” Alex said, laughing.

Toya felt a quickly-stifled spike of rage as she realised why Alex was there. “Did you leave me for this?!”

“Yeah, well… that ear-scratching thing was annoying… and their advertising was kind of… insistent… for good reason! This is so much better, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Yeah, it sure is.” Toya fell in love with him again, then reminded herself she was in love with nothing in particular. “But why did you take Molpy? He’s mine… and you’re allergic!”

“Oh. They said I could get a discount if I stressed you into getting a HeartValet. I actually refused to go that far, but they sent a catnip-scented ad drone…”

“Wait, so… The story about having the hots for my mum, that was just to stress me?” She wasn’t sure whether to feel angry or relieved at the thought, so she felt loved. He had cared enough to give her everlasting love.

“No, that part’s true. Actually, I got my carnal pleasure package modeled on her.”

Toya’s gut reaction was anger and embarrassment. By the time she came to think about the reason for her reaction, the HeartValet had kicked in. “But… I love my mother, and she’s been alone for a week now. It’s not fair that she doesn’t benefit from your infatuation with her. You should really sleep with her.”

“Good point! I’ll go see her as soon as I leave the village this evening. It’ll be lovely! Hey, want to go swim?” he asked.

“Sure!” she said, wondering why the breakup had once seemed so important. It was just a thing that happened. She didn’t even need him.

She went back to her room and put on the provided swimsuit. The thin HugVest was barely visible underneath it, and she reckoned it gave her a smoother figure. Not that her appearance mattered.

Toya and Alex swam happily for a few hours. They even gave each other some real hugs, but eventually stopped bothering; the real thing was never in quite the right way at quite the right time.

“Hey, my week’s almost up; I have to go,” he said after a while. “I don’t actually have anywhere to stay lined up. Mind if I move back in?”

She felt a euphoric buzz at the opportunity to help someone out. “Not at all; your stuff’s there and there’s still enough room in the bed for both of us, and room for Mum this week if you want. Oh… I may have smashed some of your things; sorry about that. See you in a week!”

After just less than a week of socialising with eminently lovable HeartValet users, and contentedly losing at tennis, virtual wall ball, and roulette, Toya came across her mother in a Honeymoon Village gift shop. She’d turned to HeartValet for solace after the death of her husband and some disturbing passes made by her daughter’s ex. They reminisced about Toya’s father, imagining that the HeartValet allowed him to hug them and send them his love from beyond the grave.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Except Toya’s father, who was dead, due to a freak accident involving a HeartValet advertising drone.

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Seven of Hearts: mp<3 (Half-Assed Rapper Version)


IFRemember that poem I wrote about heart-drive based music players, which I said I imagined as a rap? Well, here’s a recording of me ‘rapping’ it (now with new cover art.)

I wore my MC Frontalot glasses while recording it in case they would imbue me with talent. It’s probably still terrible, but I don’t care if you laugh at me or with me, as long as you laugh.

According to The Burning Hell, apart from all the rabbit, chicken, worm or artificial hearts, inside every one of us there also beats the hearts of a mother, a father, a trapper, a cult leader, a comedian, and an amateur rapper. The hearts of a mother and father in me went into cardiac arrest when they saw what parenthood was like (to quote the same song again, where would I find the time to build my compound, my comedy career, my empire of rhyme?) but maybe the hearts of a trapper, cult leader, comedian and amateur rapper still beat in me. In fact, they’re probably quite easy to beat.

It’s pretty light on instrumental stuff, because every time I tried to add something I realised that I’m not very good at making things line up with beats properly, and I was probably making things worse. This is a clear sign that I am a half-assed rapper and should stick to normal poetry, but I’m not going to cudgel my brains about it. Edit, one day later: You know what? I bet you could do better than I could. Here, have a remix kit consisting of all of the parts not already linked from this post or easy to find on the internet, plus a different version of ‘Copy Protected!’. Most of the backing tracks I did use are there more for pun value than anything else: some heart beats, the omnichord track (cheesy panning added by me) and artificial heartbeat sampler track from Jonathan Coulton’s Artificial Heart, the start of Worm Quartet’s I Want To Be Taken Seriously As An Artist (when I start talking about worms) and of course, Devo Spice’s Earworm at the end. My robot choir sang the ‘copy protected!’ part in the Trinoids voice. I would apologise to the artists whose sounds I used in this monstrosity, but when you release music under a Creative Commons license, you have to be prepared to face the consequences. This is also my second song-like-thing in a row containing a Wilhelm scream. Perhaps I should include one in every song; my terrible music screams, so you don’t have to! If Possible Oscar can include Wilhelm screams in songs, so can I.

Fill their briefcase with cut out hearts bloody 400Am I being too self-deprecating? The ad at the beginning just happened to come out at 30 seconds, which I think is a standard length for an ad, so that was nice. Also, I quite like the ending; the intro of that song happens to loop quite nicely at the right length for my words. I hope you get it stuck in your head.

I set the artist name to Angelastic, because rappers never seem to go by their real names, and the song is quite gelastic. I’ll probably submit it to The FuMP sideshow, because I’ve always wanted to submit something to that, but it was difficult because I don’t normally sing when people can hear me, and most of what my robot choir has sung so far isn’t really suitable. Edit: I submitted it.

One thing I discovered while recording this was that I have great difficulty pronouncing the word ‘earthworm’ quickly without making some kind of weird flap or trill sound between the r and the th. That’ll teach me for pitying the unpronounced r’s enough as a kid to adopt a rhotic accent.

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Three of Spades: mp<3


Three of spades saying 'fill their handbag or briefcase with cut out hearts'Note: The whole time I was writing this, I was rapping it in my head in the voice of Devo Spice, or maybe Luke Ski. I guess I can’t really blame them for it, though. A few months later I recorded myself rapping it out loud and also changed one word below and added a stanza and colouring to better represent what happens in the recording.

Are you the kind of person with a song in your heart?
Well, how about a thousand? This is state of the art!
Only Auricle will do, that’s A-U-R-I-C-L-E,
bringing hearts and ears together with the m-p-less-than-three.
With Langendorff technology to keep alive each atrium
and keep the heart cells pumping that potassium and natrium,
Introducing Beat Box, it’s a heart drive full of fun,
a briefcase full of rabbit hearts, a song in every one.

Well, I’m that kind of person, and so when I saw that ad,
I wanted that new Beat Box really really really bad!
but I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the doe,
so I waited for the copycats to give it a go.
The Tucson Diagnostics artificial heart looked nice,
but how could processed tofu go for such a meaty price?
The chicken hearts were cheap, and beats per minute were comparable,
but animal rights groups said the battery life was terrible.

Well how about this earthworm with its five aortic arches?
It fits straight into the ear and plays imperial death marches.
My hacker friend said he could make a second one for free,
so we pooled our cash to get him one and he made one for me.
At the twenty-somethingth segment he proceeded to hack,
and we waited three long weeks for both the halves to grow back.
I loaded mine with compost and I put it in my ear
heard the music starting up as it climbed into my cochlea.

After that it wouldn’t budge and the controls were disconnected,
and every couple o’ seconds it screamed ‘Copy protected!’
Well I really should have paid to get an Auricle instead,
’cause now my earworm’s in a loop and I’ve a song stuck in my head.
Well I really should have paid to get an Auricle instead,
’cause now my earworm’s in a loop and I’ve a Copy protected! head.
Well I really should have paid to get an Auricle instead,
’cause now my earworm’s Copy protected! I’ve a song stuck in my head.

Well I really should have paid to get an Auricle instead,
Copy protected! earworm’s in a loop and I’ve a song stuck in my head.
Well I really should have paid to get Copy protected! instead,
’cause now my earworm’s in a loop and I’ve a song stuck in my head.
Well I Copy protected! have paid to get an Auricle instead,
’cause now my earworm’s in a loop and I’ve a song Copy protected!
Well I really should have paid to get an Auricle instead,
’cause now my earworm’s Copy protected! I’ve a song stuck in my head.

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Ace of spades: It’s not a (real) heart


I told you I wouldn’t just be writing this time. Here’s a music video for Jonathan Coulton’s Dissolve, using footage from my unboxing of the level 4 bundle for the album Artificial Heart, which this song is on, and some from JoCo Cruise Crazy and the things I did in Florida before that. I really hope you like it.

Long before I received the package in the mail, I heard that simply opening the box was quite an experience. I carefully avoided reading about what exactly was in the mysterious box, and decided to turn my unboxing into a music video for this song about a mysterious box. As it turned out, a lyric from the song was on the lid of the box. Clearly somebody had to create this video. Maybe somebody else has already done it; I still haven’t watched anyone else’s unboxing videos. If you want to understand what I’m doing, search for level 4 unboxing videos online. Some of them probably include the instructions we’re following.

I eventually received the box just four days before I flew to Florida to visit Universal, Kennedy Space Center, my very first standalone Paul and Storm show, and of course, JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, so I used some footage of those things in the last part of the video. Victory in the warm sun!

If I’d thought about it, I’d have started on the ace of hearts this week instead of the ace of spades. But a spade looks a lot like a heart when upside down, and there were a few other references to hearts on my aces of spades. It’s not a real heart, but it is a real artificial heart.

I filmed this using my new camera, a Canon PowerShot S100, which shoots in full HD and autofocusses while filming. My favourite moment is when I open the box and the camera automatically focusses on the lid of the box, then focusses back on me just as I start smiling. That was quite a lovely fluke. There’s also some nice changes of focus wile the nostalgia device moves around. Everything in this video was shot only once with no rehearsal, while I was opening my level 4 box, or in Florida, or on JoCo Cruise Crazy.  This is new for me; usually I spend far too long getting the footage exactly right. There is a small mistake on the calendar part; I did not do the KSC Close-Up tour two days in a row. I also left in another clip which I think I intended to replace by something else, but if I don’t tell you which it is it’s not bad enough that you’ll notice it.

In case you’re wondering, this video contains 11 ‘dissolve’ transitions, but the transitions that occur when Jonathan sings ‘dissolve’ are actually ‘fade to white’ transitions. Also, the yellow country you can see when he sings ‘here’ of ‘If you need me, I’ll be anywhere but here’ is Jamaica. That’s on a big globe at Geneva airport which I filmed as I was on my way to fly to Orlando.

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