The Geiger Counter

Matt Geiger is a Midwest Book Award Winner, a national American Book Fest Finalist, and an international Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist. He is also the winner of numerous journalism awards. His books include “Astonishing Tales!* (Your Astonishment May Vary)” and “Raised by Wolves & Other Stories.” He once won an axe-throwing competition.
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Tales from the Merry-go-round

Summer festivals

A fish died and a kid threw up. That’s the most succinct description I can come up with from the weekend. 

We attended one of those smalltown carnivals, those places where deep fryers congregate like a hundred thousand wildebeasts assembling for migration. A place full of buzzers, bells, lights, power chords the size of your forearm, corn dogs, and the screams and giggles of children who are zooming through the Midwestern sky on rides while adults gaze into their wallets and purses and wonder where all their money has gone. 

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Good Life

It’s become fashionable these days to tell your daughter she can grow up to be president. That she can work on Wall Street or run for senate. That she can be rich and powerful.

Just as rich and powerful as the most miserable men.

The only problem is that I love my daughter, and I wouldn’t wish any of those terrible things on her, or on anyone else about whom I care. 

All I really want for my child, is for her to see beauty and truth in the humble places they reside. That, I hope, is enough. And if she can, she will be able to lead a good, meaningful life, brimming with meaning and love.

I left a mason jar on the side of sink the other day, wobbling when I set it down on the rounded white porcelain beneath it. My five-year-old daughter, Hadley, entered the bathroom a few minutes later, and I heard the telltale crash of glass exploding on the unforgiving tile floor. 

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When I was little, and I’d get hurt, soiled or sodden, my dad would saunter toward me, searching around in his pockets. His stroll lacked urgency, which made me suspect my situation perhaps lacked urgency too and might not end up sending me to the emergency room. By the time he arrived, my father had usually found what he was looking for, a navy-blue handkerchief with a white paisley design swirling around its center. 

Some parents choose to treat their children’s bruises, abrasions and other mishaps with ice packs, warm compresses, aspirin, tinctures, salves or stitches. But he believed a wrinkled piece of cloth was always the right prescription. 

“Here, son,” he’d say calmly. “Let me just smear the mummified leftovers from your prior injury or accident into your new one. That ought to clear things up. There, there. All better.”

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Man At Work: A Look at Michael Perry's Latest

John Steinbeck said he wanted to write about people “who merge successfully with their habitat.” “In men, we call this philosophy, and it is a fine thing,” he added. He wished to tell the tales of “good people of laughter and kindness, of honest lusts and direct eyes, of courtesy beyond politeness.”

That was in 1937. Now it’s late 2017, and the ghost of John Steinbeck is no doubt thrilled to have someone like Michael Perry carrying on his work down here on Earth. Perry’s new book, Danger, Man Working: Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch, won’t surprise anyone in scope or style. It’s simply a collection of stories spanning 15 years. Perry writes about dog sledding, existential philosophy, vomit, guns, and the complexities of modern parenting.

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The Bear

One night I saw the glint of light on broken glass, and I knew the moon was shining.

A burnt sienna-haired woman was draped in black. She stormed back and forth across a little room, sneering and yelling and rolling her eyes - raging and beautiful in the way only a furious woman can be. A man towered and lumbered around her, menacing and massive one moment, comical and infantile the next, powerful and afraid.

I sat a few feet away, sipping room temperature coffee from a white polystyrene cup, watching, nodding and laughing.  

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Geiger's debut book finds humor, inspiration in the unknown

Celebrate with the author 
on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 
Wisconsin Brewing Company 
in Verona from 6-8 p.m. 
The official book launch 
party will include a signing,
copies for sale and a 
chance to chat with the author


“We all have so much in common. You wouldn’t think it from the endless cavalcade of animosity and discord on the Internet, but we do,” observes author Matt Geiger as he prepares for the release of his debut book. “We all live, we all die, and we are all far more confused by the world around us than we like to admit.”

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Before I Go

I used to have a Darwinian view on parenting. Like all uninformed opinions, it was elegant in its simplicity.

“Kids have survived for thousands of generations without car seats, helmets, vaccines or organic, lavender-scented diaper cream,” I said. “I’m pretty sure the survival of our species proves we don’t need to go out of our way to keep them alive.”

What I immediately realized the first time I looked at my daughter was the fundamental difference between the species as a whole - which includes billions of people, many of whom are murdering, stealing and singing karaoke at this very moment – and my little girl, who is currently gnawing on my leg and saying “meow” while pointing at a picture of a pig.

It’s not that I don’t care about the whole of humanity. It’s that I care about it far less than I care about the little girl whose health, safety and ultimate happiness are my responsibility.

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Confessions of a pin-up icon

It was the early 1950s when a young farm girl named Bonnie Bakken stood in the doorway of her parents’ home in Black Earth. Her hands on her hips, the fiercely independent young woman told her mother she was leaving the farm, the church, and Wisconsin.

She was going, she said, to see her name in lights. 

“And I did,” she reflects today with a nod, cradling a small cup of coffee and flexing her hands to counteract the arthritis that often binds them. “I saw my name in lights many times.”

At a corner table at Hazelnut Café in downtown Blue Mounds, the woman, who went by myriad names but who most know as Bonnie Logan, carefully opens a thick, red, ribbon-festooned book containing dozens of magazine covers and newspaper clippings that chronicle the life of a pin-up and burlesque legend.

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The Apocalypse or the Egg

Editor's note: The following column first appeared in News Publishing's Spring 2012 Home and Garden Supplement.

In our partisan culture, half the populace always believes we’re on the brink of the apocalypse.

I’m an Independent, which means I’m always convinced everything is on the verge of collapse. As a result, I’m cultivating a lifestyle that will make the inevitable apocalypse manageable. I don’t just want to survive the End Times – I want to enjoy them.

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Beware the Panhandling Menace?

“Be careful everyone! The gypsies might throw their babies at you.”

We stood in a swarming French train station - surrounded by gothic clocks, smoke and a mist of people making throaty noises I had to assume were words.

I departed for France with the impression even babies there smoked cigarettes and drank wine. Colorfully dressed nomads hurling small children hadn’t been mentioned during pre-trip preparations.

Was it like the beach ball at baseball games? Or perhaps the dropped babies were sent to a special school and groomed to someday become American politicians.

“It’s an old trick,” our tour guide continued. “A woman will throw her baby at you. When you grab it with both hands, someone else will pick your pocket. She’ll snatch her baby back and they’ll be gone before you know what happened.”


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