Audio Essay Featured at The Missouri Review

My first-ever attempt at a “This American Life”-style audio essay managed to win The Missouri Review audio competition this year, and it’s now up on the TMR website for your listening pleasure! “In Search of Magic Kingdoms” is about growing up on televangelism–specifically Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL network–and a Vodicka family trip to Heritage USA, the Bakkers’ Christian theme park in South Carolina, just before the ministry fell into scandal.

If you’re not already familiar,  The Missouri Review is not exaggerating when it calls itself “one of the most highly-regarded literary magazines in the United States and for the past thirty-four years.” So while this piece is not perfect–I would have loved to give the writing a final revision–I am thrilled to place it with TMR, had a ton of fun throwing it together, and look forward to trying my hand at more audio in the future.

I’d like to give a shout out to my partner and co-engineer, Brian Quirk. I learned about the contest two weeks before the deadline, so this was a crash course in Logic recording, which he re-learned in order to teach me. He also patiently endured listening to seemingly endless loops of Susie Moppet singing “Jesus takes a frown/and turns it upside down/and oops! There comes a smile.” (Now he knows how my parents felt!) In gratitude, a portion of the proceeds will go toward his pepperoni pizza fund.

I can’t stream it from Palau, so you’ll have to tell me how it turned out! Hope you enjoy: “In Search of Magic Kingdoms”

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For Dad on His Birthday

Today, my dad enters a new decade. I won’t tell you which decade, I’ll just tell you that when I was home in August, he water skied every day, and at least once while I was driving he told me to take it up past 40 and he dropped his slalom ski and barefooted across the lake all the way home. So he’s pretty much invincible.

In honor of the World’s Greatest Pops, here’s a little tune my sister and I recorded last year, an old Loretta Lynn song we used to sing when we were younger. It’s one of Dad’s favorites. Our good friend Drew Piston learned the guitar part in three minutes and recorded for us in his living room in two takes (I think we started laughing in the middle of the first one). That angel voice on harmony is my little sister, Betty Lou.

I wish we were all home celebrating together, but this is the best I can do from across the ocean. So, for the man who taught six kids to water ski, to make music, to work hard, to be thankful for what we have and never take a day for granted, this one’s for you, with all my love:

“When They Ring the Golden Bells”