“Zelda’s Dreams,” By James Franco

Read an exclusive excerpt from James Franco’s new book Hollywood Dreaming: Stories, Pictures, and Poems .

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

So Nick Carraway, on the opening page of The Great Gatsby, says something in the realm of I was an intimate with the deep, ineluctable griefs of a gallery of shadow men, wild and lashing in their natures.

And, as the girl in Godard's Breathless quotes, and was later quoted in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, from Faulkner (this is the spirit of the thing): Between grief on earth and the howling void, I'll take the trials of this life, for grief and toil are what put the uprightness in the ape's bent back, and it is the green that pushes through the stems of garden saps, and grows the buds into open flowers.

Mercutio (Romeo's Right-Hand Man):

I see Queen Mab, good Queen Mab, I do, I do. Do you?
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In a shape smaller than a seed of salt
On the pricked pinky of a deacon in winter.

She be drawn with a team of little motes, dust
In the moon's yellow light, over men's noses as they sleep;
Her wagon spokes be made of spiderous legs,
And her whip no thicker than a fiber of black widow's netting.

This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
This is she! With guilt and gratitude I claim her
As my amanuensis and wingman, sneaky Queen Mab.

When I think of all the virgins I've taken
The clouds crack and bacon flashes, smells of bacon;
When I think of all the plays ever written I realize
There is nothing more expressive than a thigh being bitten.

To the wemen: I'm the daddy longlegs in the turned-on light,
Surprised in the night, and long-stepping back to my tiled corner,
My spindly Dali-legs gingerly stepping; my vampire boner
Wet from thirsting, and a drippy tap left behind. Dream, dream,

Evil Queen Mab: weaver and spirit of the night. Me, too.

There was that Christmas morning (at age ten? eleven?) when I received that magic gray box with the flip-up flap where the cartridges would go, and the red-and-white bubble lettering on the side: Nintendo. That epiphanic morning, day, year, when, along with the matte-gray cartridge of Super Mario Bros.—the classic that I was already familiar with in the arcade version from long hours at Round Table Pizza, the one in the mini-mall with the comic book store where I bought Samurai Cat; the Lucky's that as teenagers we would eventually buy our egging eggs from; and the donut shop, Bob's Donuts, where, once, before class, when I was in seventh grade, early in the morn, I got a bear claw, and tried my first jelly-filled with my stoner girlfriend, Jen, in her cropped leather jacket, accompanied by her tall friend Corine in a black trench, and white makeup . . . Corine, a nonvirgin at the age of thirteen, and Patrick, the boy who took so much acid one night he started to see his friends as Lego constructions, and tried to pull them apart (he never recovered, and wandered the Palo Alto of our youth in a half-smiling daze while his brother became the second most prolific local tagger behind ORFN, MORG: connecting the M to the O to the G with an overcrossing loop, and then the R to the G with a sharp link from the R's extended foot up to the top of the G, with a sharp angle that sat like a hat above the curve of that letter's capital shape, the signature cute and violent at the same time, like all good graffiti, the appealing shapes of the practiced artist combined with the violent, and off-putting, in-your-face gesture of illegal defacement/public display)—I also received a shiny golden cartridge that would change my life. For, you see, it was The Legend of Zelda, the first (or almost first) of the great roaming adventure games that have now expanded into everything from Grand Theft Auto to World of Warcraft.


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