Writing blog

Adam Kelly Morton

Writing, Teaching, Film, Acting, Life.

When I'm not sure how things are going, remember

When I'm not sure how things are going, remember
that I can drink clean water, eat good food, make love to my wife, play with my kid,
walk outside, sit in a café, read, play games, write, laugh with friends, waste time on
little indulgences, call family, draw, paint, play or listen to music, create, start projects,
go for a run, plan a trip, buy something, shop, get a haircut or a massage, improve my
self, dream, risk, help others, be a positive influence, contribute, give, cook a good meal
or go out to eat, be alone or with others, exercise, take a drive, write an email or
letter, talk to people, meditate, breathe, explore, research, think, invest, relax, be quiet, be
noisy, teach, inspire, react, express

myself, sing, guide, climb, try, network, seek counsel, observe, admire, be ridiculous,
smell, taste, touch, hear, see
things, accomplish,
meander, move forward, celebrate, feel, question, rest, sleep

early, wake early, or the opposite,
shower or bathe, swim or swing, jump or roll,
hug someone, dig deep, hone skills, revisit, learn, smile, make others

remember, forgive,

and be grateful

any old time I want.

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"The Anorak" published

Here goes:
"The Anorak" is now published and available for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords.

Anorak Cover 2 copy

In summer of the year 2000, as part of our Master in Fine Arts Acting program, we were required to write a solo show, and perform it upon our return in September. This was the beginning of what eventually became "The Anorak", my play about the Montreal Massacre and the life and death of Marc Lépine.
The play has gone through a good number of incarnations: starting as a work about my life, growing up in Pierrefonds, drawing parallels to the killer's upbringing; it then was what I call a "schizophrenic" show, changing back and forth from Lépine's life to mine; eventually the play took on its final major incarnation—as a biopic about Gamil Gharbi, who later became the man who perpetrated the worst solo spree massacre in Canadian history.
The Montreal Massacre resonated deeply with all who heard about it. That such a crime could be committed in our very own "belle ville" was—at the time— inconceivable. Whereas nowadays school shootings have become commonplace in the United States, Montreal has acquired the dreadful distinction of being the "school shooting capital of the world".
Clearly, there are a lot of issues at stake when it comes to these acts of violence; in my opinion, there is a lot to look at when it comes to how we raise our kids, the massive (often harmful) influence of our educational system, gun control, violence against women, changing gender values, and many others.
That's why it gives me a lot of pride to bring forth, at long last, this play of mine which addresses many of the problems inherent with growing up in this highly isolating modern world. I believe "The Anorak" is still very relevant with what's going on today, and that adults (and mature young adults) can benefit from the questions the play asks.
As many of you know, the events depicted in this play—in graphic detail— are very difficult to take in. But, in spite of the meritorious warnings, I think there is still much to be gleaned from reading this work. It has been, in my experience, profoundly debate-provocative, which is a fundamental means toward understanding one another.
It is my hope that many of you will wish to delve into this. Although "The Anorak" may be harsh to read, and even harsher to subject your imagination to, it will prove significant to you, and worth the effort.

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Alcoholism is Volitional

"When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat"
-- Charles Bukowski.

This article was first published in (Cult)ure Magazine, March 24, 2010.

If you had said to me, a little over two years ago, that I would go two years without a drink, I'd have laughed in your fucking face.

"Ha!" I'd have said. "Two years? You're fucking crazy! Two years without drinking is like two years without life."

Two years ago on a frigid January night, my friends pulled me out of the Cock n' Bull pub, an infamous drinking hole in downtown Montreal, now defunct. My bender had begun uptown at Dieu du Ciel, that excellent purveyor of homemade beer, where I had drained about seven pints of
Gaelique, my favourite. After that, I crashed a party on Parc Avenue, drinking all but one of a six-pack. Then I had the idea of making peace with R, an estranged friend of mine, so I told him to meet me at our old haunt: The Bull.
Hailing a cab, I finished my last bottle of beer en route.

Drunk On Arrival, I set to the task of rekindling my friendship with R. Our mutual friend S was there too. Our table was loaded up (on mainly my money) with pitchers of 50. The advanced state of my inebriation was immediately apparent to my friends; as usual, they found it astonishing and amusing.

After mending my broken bond with R -- because there's nothing like being hammered for making or breaking up friendships -- I proceeded to hit on a woman who was clearly a crack addict. S had even seen her pipe.

The next moment (I can recall), I was standing outside the pub vociferously defending my capacity for more booze. S offered me a lift home, so I spat on him. A little later I remember lying in an alley, presumably somewhere near the Metro.

I awoke in the Royal Vic, where they take all the drunks. An IV drip was stuck to my left arm. My bed was in a corridor with several others. All I had on was a green gown.

Slowly I sat myself up and regained my senses. A big, friendly-looking black nurse ambled up to me. "Do I have to stay here?" I asked her.
"It's a good idea if you stay put, young man," she said.
"But I don't have to stay here, do I?"
"No you don't," she said with resignation.
"All right then," I smiled. "Thanks."

In another minute I had torn the IV off my arm, ripped my piss-soaked clothes out of the sealed, see-through plastic bag, dressed, thanked a random doctor and walked out into the cold around 5 am.

By the time I was lucid again, two days later, the wound over my left eye had turned dark purple. There were more injuries up the left side of my body: cuts and bruises from a source unknown. My chest hair had been shorn in three distinct square patches, probably from the heart monitors at the Vic.

When asked what had happened, I said that I had slipped on some ice.
In retrospect, what scared me most about the event was not the event itself, but my casual and cavalier attitude about it. Despite the harm and humiliation, I was ready to go again.

Such is the allure of alcoholism, or any other dependency: the profound sense of invulnerability. The addiction, of course, makes you feel safe and in control. All of the escapist clichés are somewhat true. Chiefly, there is that inherent belief that you can take it and survive, and from this you get a strange feeling of accomplishment -- of personal achievement. No one can touch you. The world can't get you by the throat, and you are never alone because you join the ranks of many great suffering artists and visionaries. You know the blues.

Faced with yet another re-think of my life, I looked at the things that weren't working in it, and at how to fix them. From that list, which I called "Solutions," I realized that nearly half of my issues were booze-related, and that the other half were unsolvable until I dealt with the alcohol problems.

There has been all kinds of nomenclature developed, related to alcoholism and addiction. In Montreal, the word
dépendence is the usual moniker used in both English and French. Substance dependence is generally defined as persistent use of a substance despite problems related to its use. However, the word "dependence" seems to imply an involuntary need -- as for mother's milk. Such a perspective implies the addict has no will over the drug: they must have it or they will die

Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight
-Bruce Cockburn

"Need" and "want" have separate meanings, but we often use the words interchangeably. It seems to me that this designation of need or dependence creates a kind of distraction from a simpler "want vs. don't want" scenario. The argument "I want to quit, but I can't" continues to be made by many in the throes of addiction. Recognizing that one is in a state of wanting rather than needing re-affirms one's volition, and begins the long process of kicking out the darkness of self-harm.

The medical community has still not reached a consensus over the debate, which started in the early nineteenth century with the Trotter Hypothesis, in which alcoholism was first proposed to be a disease. Regardless of whether the Disease Theory eventually acquires full recognition from scientists, I think those who are out in the streets, in the bars, and hiding in their cups need something a little tougher than "you're genetically pre-disposed to the stuff" to inspire in them the will to quit.

Addiction is like any other desire, and its solution is ultimately up to the addict. If I do drink again one day -- and I hope I don't, because I am an alcoholic -- it won't be because I am
dependent on alcohol. It will be because I choose to drink. Would that be unwise? Yes, but it will be of my own volition: I want it, for whatever unfortunate reason.

The reason I quit drinking two years ago was because I genuinely wanted to.

Either you want to or you don't.

Adam’s Note: I continue to mark the anniversary of my sobriety from January 28th 2008.
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six ways from Sunday


we speak at six then kiss then dinner
six sushi we order
we’ll roll like maki tonight
with “red beetle” white (acceptably light)
your blush at the falling from your mouth
enfer loup de mer

paradis lips i see
sky your eyes now
falling too alling too
you take a photograph the little asian girl
i’m no photographer i say
but at six tomorrow we know so we go.

we left and walked slowly
you liked the place and i your face
(started me smoking again) reaching my place we climbed
slowly slowly
got my laundry
in my room with you kissed you

six times we moved
there was yes opening
six with quiet paper thin walls
six with near and distant dangers
six with cats (verfrem and gordo
le beau)
six with knowing six with moving

night fell your eyes
my new blue skies
i showed you the book
Le Six Décembre
was right with klimt but missed on chopin
i sang you the words of a drowning song
yesterday the sky was you

my yesterday’s coming ’round
your natural hair your velvet black coat
your naked man and woman pin
your eyes coming ’round
i take your picture
my mind a photographer

your lack of culture
fuck you i’m french
i was born with it
you said
my my
my yesterday’s

my yesterday’s
my yesterday’s coming
my yesterday’s coming ’round
my yesterday’s coming round today
mmm mmmmmm
shhhhhh you said.

we woke sometime
after six
there were
croissants and tea
and sacrilege from milk only
white fur on your blacks

And slowly we walk down
slowly slowly
stepping down into a skyless sea
and six times we moved
and six times we loved
and six ways from Sunday

you me
you me
you me
you me
you me
you. me.

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Life in the City


After many, many requests—one, at least—here, at long last, is my submission for the Dramaturkey (Worst Play of the Year) competition. I expect to win.

a Dramaturkey play submission by Adam Kelly Morton

Set: A backdrop painting of a city landscape. Music: Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.
A set of prison bars is lowered to the floor. A bearded man walks onstage, and looks longingly through the bars. He takes off his t-shirt and mimes slitting his wrists.

(He dies, then slowly rises and walks offstage.)

It was an ordinary town in an ordinary city, where things went on as normal.

Enter HUSBAND AND WIFE, miming eating breakfast.

So, did you sleep well dear?

I did. And you?

I slept very well. Though I had a dream.

What was it about?

In my dream I was walking along a long white corridor, and there were people on all sides of me, one of them was my grandfather, well it looked like him but it wasn’t really him. And then there was this blinding flash of light, and I woke up in a cold sweat.

Honey, are you all right? Let me know if you have any more of these dreams.

I will.

HUSBAND leaves.

WIFE (speaking to no one)
Ever since I had the abortion, I’ve felt a terrible loss. My sense of self has changed, and now, I’m not the woman I used to be. Now, everything has changed.

WIFE exits, enter SON, who was the man in the first scene, now with no beard. He is smoking a cigarette. Music plays: Comfortably Numb. A screen is lowered in.

SON (to audience)
You think I wanted to be a killer? No. It’s something that is inside you, it bubbles up from deep inside you… and then… it explodes. Now, I don’t feel anything. I’m numb inside. There’s this song by Pink Floyd. It’s called Comfortably Numb. And that’s exactly how I feel. Comfortably numb.
(A film is projected on the screen. Scenes of a boy running away from the camera.)
My father was cruel to me as a boy. He used to beat me for the smallest of trivialities. I had no friends. Who needs friends? I am alone. Like a lone wolf. I’m not angry anymore like I used to be. No. Now I’m like that Pink Floyd song. Just comfortably numb.

He exits. Enter GIRL, miming putting on makeup in a mirror facing stage left

You’re going to be beautiful. All of the boys are going to wish they could be with you. Food is the enemy. It tries to get inside you. But you can’t let it win. If it does, just one trip to the washroom. Cleansing. I am clean inside. Inside and out. And all the boys will love you. I’m not starving myself. I’M NOT STARVING MYSELF!!!

Enter WIFE. Her and the girl do an interpretive dance to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”. They exit. Stage hands bring on large desk with telephone.

Yes, it was an ordinary day in an ordinary city. Until things start to come… undone.

Sound of telephone ringing. Enter HUSBAND who picks up telephone.

Hello HZW Enterprises how can I help you? Oh, hi Gerry, yes I’m at work. What’s that? You think the client might foreclose? Gerry we made a deal with him he- oh, I see. He’s going with the competition. All right. I’ll talk to you later.

He exits. Desk is turned and telephone removed. Desk is now a bed. Enter GIRL and SON. They are miming making out passionately. A television is brought onstage.

No, don’t Adam. I want my first time to be special. And you know I love you.

Ok, cool. Respect, yo.


Hey you want to kick back and watch some tube instead?
(He points at the television.)

Yes. (
They sit on the floor and he mimes changing the channels. We hear a news report.)

And finally, all citizens of the town are being asked to beware of the deranged killer who escaped from the maximum security prison just outside of town. Very little is known about the killer, but he is considered armed and extremely dangerous. (
He turns it off.)

Hey, why did you turn that off. I was watching that.
(She points at the television.)

Because, you can’t believe everything you hear in the news, yo. Hey, Should we go in the kitchen and make some popcorn, yo?


Girl walks off. Son watches her go… ominously. Looks back at the Tv. He throws the remote control away and exits after her. Blackout. Lights up. WIFE enters, now setting the table/desk with dinner items. She hums to herself. Enter HUSBAND, drunk.

Hello Honey, how was your day at work?

Harrgaagrar blaggga barg barg. Bad day. Lost a contract. Hurrumph.

Oh my God, you’re drunk.

I’m fine now. Listen, I have to talk to you about this, because all the way home it was just burning up inside me. I guess I shouldn’t have driven home. That was dangerous.

You should never drink and drive. Now what is it?

Please sit down.
(She sits down. He kneels in front of her.)Now you know I love you, and I’ll do anything to make sure you and Adam, our son, are taken care of. But, I’m afraid we might have a bit of hardship ahead.

Honey, you know I’ll stand by you, through thick and thin. I love you.

As long as I know that, everything is going to be okay. Hey, where’s Adam?

He went over to Suzy’s house.

Come on, let’s find some of his old pictures of when he was a baby.

He is such a good boy.

Dark music plays, like from “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd. They exit.

But things aren’t always what they seem to be… on the surface.

Enter SON and GIRL miming eating popcorn. The girl now carries a live pet ferret.

Yo dawg, this is the best popcorn I ever had.

Do you really think so? My mother taught me how to make it. I love her very deeply.

Hey, why are you looking at me like that?

I’m not. Don’t criticize me. Now put down Slinky.

Ok. (
She places the ferret down.) Give me a kiss.

FUCK your kiss! (Comfortably Numb plays.)

Hey, Adam, what’s happening to you?

I’m never good enough for you. For my father. I’m not going to take it anymore!
(He flips over the table sending all the plates and dishes crashing.)

What are you doing? Those were my mom’s precious China collection.

I’m sick of all this. What’s this system we live in? Well, the system is fucked. Like Shakespeare said: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” And now someone has to pay.
(He moves towards her to kill her as Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession” is played.)

(They do an interpretive dance, ending with the Son jumping on her and strangling her. She dies quickly and painlessly. He looks around, and starts cleaning up the plates. In slow motion he looks up and sees the audience. Lights flash. Police sirens.)

NARRATOR (as police)
You are under arrest. Put your hands up. You have the right to remain silent…

SON breaks down crying. Blackout. Stage hands clean up stage and place telephone on floor. Enter HUSBAND AND WIFE on knees looking through picture book.

And there’s one of him laughing.

He was always laughing as a baby. Never cried once.

You’re right. He never cries. I’m so proud of our son. I’ll get it.
(The telephone rings)
Hello? This is Mr. Cooper. No I haven’t been watching the news, why what the Hell is going on? What? Our son is what? Oh my god! (He drops the telephone)

What? What is it, Neil?


Yes it was an ordinary town with ordinary people. But even in a town like this, you never know when an ordinary day might take a turn… for the worst.

(Blackout. Lights up. Guitar solo from Comfortably Numb plays. Curtain call: Husband and wife run out: he bows, she curtsies. The girl runs out and waves to the audience. The stage hands come out and bow. Now, all together, they form two clapping sides as ADAM runs down the middle and takes a huge bow. Now they all bow together. Then ADAM bows alone one last time, with the rest of the cast clapping behind him. They all run off. Repeat for the encores.)


© Adam Kelly Morton
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