So Brian and I realize that we have only one more day of freedom before the 2004-05 school year begins. This means, of course, it's time to get back into a teaching mindset. Therefore I will start the process by relating this story as if it were a lesson plan. No talking, please, and there will be no passes to the restroom.

Today's lesson will focus on Joseph Campbell's concept of the Monomyth, a general framework which provides a description of the significant elements of the world's mythology. He summarizes his theory in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces: "The hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man" (30).

Joseph Campbell's Monomyth

The ancient hero myths of Odysseus, Hercules, Theseus, Jason and the Argonauts and Perseus all adhere to the Monomyth. Modern hero stories such as Superman and Star Wars also keep with Campbell's model.

With no preconceived plans in mind we climb in the Hybrid, jump on the 10 West and, much like the mythological Greek heroes Odysseus and Hercules, face whatever fate Zeus et al. have decided for us.

In classic mythology, the hero leaves the homeland on a quest that takes him over a supernatural threshold into a strange land.

Yep, this seems supernatural.

A co-hero lends a steady hand through a series of ordeals, especially into the back alleys of Downtown L.A..

While deciding upon a specific quest the discoveries can also be exciting and sexy.

Sidenote: I wonder what we can get for a slightly used but very boring English and drama teacher. We'll take that guy on the right. Hell, we'll take the fire hydrant or mailbox.

Cash out, Brian makes the first purchase of the day: an electric dolphin aquarium for his daughter.

I like big butts and I cannot lie.... Well, ok, not quite the damsel in distress to which the hero is typically drawn.

A thousand bucks for a bird. Hmm... Yet, no, our heroes still have not discovered their quest.

A series of obstacles must block the hero's path to an enchanted land where final victory awaits. After leaving downtown we jumped onto the 101 North only to be tailgated, harassed and honked at by some of the local thugs.

Campbell explains that beyond the threshold the hero journeys through a world of unfamiliar forces, some of which severely threaten him.

The heroes must look deeply for the inherent courage that will ultimately allow them to pass these tests and defeat the villains.

Soon the hunted becomes the hunter.

Ultimately, the hero must stand on his own, face the darkness and conquer it before returning to reality, stronger and wiser.

The journey continues to Melrose where the dashing hero discovers a temple built by the natives as a place of worship to him.

Why the look of amazement mingled with disgust on our hero's face?

Could it be the $48.00 price tag on an old, faded Neil Diamond t-shirt? Lesson for the day: "vintage" = absurdly expensive.

AKA Von Stupid. Seriously people, the trend is dead.

Again, the hero finds examples of worship by the locals, this time in literary form, a way to communicate his legendary exploits.

The fearless hero throws out a challenge to the most vile and dangerous evildoer of them all.

Even heroes need to refuel; what better place than Johnny Rockets?

While eating we watched a film crew at work practically right next to us. Check out the camouflage kilt on the director.

Say hello to Missy, apparently the star of this film. The director was overheard telling her agent, "I hope we didn't abuse her to too much." Oh yeah, I'll be renting this one.

Every journey takes its toll.

Did I mention the supernatural earlier? Seriously, WTF?

Along the way the hero is guided by jesters, though I'm not so sure they are supposed to be this freaky. It's time to move on from this part of the adventure.

On the 10 East at the Baldwin exit the carpool lane breaks into two parts: the right goes into normal traffic while the left is the MTA bus lane that travels to the bus station. Few people have traveled this path. But then few people are of heroic nature.

Much like Theseus who chose the more difficult route in order to battle murderous bandits, thus cementing his hero status, guess which lane the intrepid heroes chose...

That would be correct.

D'oh! Below the threshold of adventure the hero encounters a shadowy presence that guards the passage.

One hero to the other: "Dude, hide the camera!"

The hero laughs at the shadowy dangers of the adventure.

After we've been ordered to make a U-turn , of course.

Back to the freeway.

But this time we are on the 10 West just before the Rosemead Blvd. exit. Rosemead! Our heroes gotta represent.

Then, just as all seems lost, we discover our quest.

When the heroes arrive at the nadir of the mythological round, they undergo a supreme ordeal and gain their reward: Piņatas, baby!

At the return threshold the hero re-emerges from the kingdom of dread. The boon that he brings restores the world, or at the very least makes the hero's daughter happy because now her birthday party will be complete.