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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Build Your Own Hellhound

Picture this: You live in a world where reading is outlawed and if you are unlucky enough to actually get caught, the “firemen” burn down your house! No semblance of self control is evident and lawlessness abounds. This is only a part of the craziness that is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.Perhaps the most shocking part of the book involves mechanical hounds, set upon hapless animals, the soulless enforcers of the few rules in society. The dogs live in the fire stations, and hunt and kill thinkers and readers. Mechanical Hounds? If you are confused by the sound of this, you are not alone. Don’t worry.The Mass Media sat down with Pet Monteith and Janis Pryor, from WUMB radio, organizers of The Mechanical Hound competition at UMB. Part of The Big Read initiative, and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the competition will be held on the ground floor of the Campus Center here at UMB.Mass Media: So, where did you get the idea for the “Mechanical Hound” competition?Janis Prior: From the book, actually. Page 24 has a very vivid description of the mechanical hound. If you just bear with me for a moment, I can read it for you. She reads: “the Mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse. The dim light of one in the morning, the moonlight from the open sky framed through the great window, touched here and there on the brass and the copper and the steel of the faintly trembling beast. Light flickered on bits of ruby glass and on sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils of the creature that quivered gently, gently, its eight legs spidered under it on rubber-padded paws.”MM: Thank you for that– that was very descriptive. So, what are you hoping to accomplish with this competition?Pat Monteith: Well, our main objective is to generate enthusiasm for reading. We want young people to get excited about reading again in general.MM: Is it a traditional art competition?JP: As an art major it’s pretty traditional for me. However, since it’s an art competition, we want to give people as much freedom with their interpretations of what a mechanical hound can look like. There’ll be people who prepared their entries weeks in advanced and those that will do theirs on the day of the competition. So, we’ll be having two separate competitions as a result. Neither one is more recommended over the other though.MM: Lastly, do you plan on organizing any more events like this?PM: Well, since this particular event is part of The Big Read, sponsored by the National Endowment for Arts and also by Arts Midwest there should be more events like this happening for sure. Actually, we’ve been able to donate over 2000 copies of the book to local libraries and schools around the area because of the grant. So, we hope there’ll be plenty more competitions like this in the future.I also sat down with a UMB student who had some experience with the book. She read the book in high school and it has stuck with her till today; “What I really liked about the book and I still like is the title. I think it’s such a great title, you know, ‘Fahrenheit 451′ the temperature that books burn at. Yeah, I definitely found some parts of the book disturbing especially with regards to the mindless violence and censorship” She strongly recommends it to all, calling this classic “engaging” .