Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A shower speaker, a true-crime podcast, and an excellent sophomore novel

News clippings about Daniel Morgan’s murder in 1987 (Screenshot: UntoldMurder.com)

Yatra waterproof speaker


If you’re anything like me, you love singing in the shower. (I used to enjoy dancing, too, until a really embarrassing fall disabused me of the desire, a story about which the less is said, the better.) But we live in an apartment with no windows in the bathroom, meaning moisture builds up instantly on everything. Hence, no speakers, no sound. It’s a sad situation. Or rather, it was, until I got my Yatra waterproof speaker. This little guy manages to deliver impressive sound quality (usually a deal-breaker with me on cheap little speakers, and I’m too poor to afford the fancy ones) in a speaker that can literally fit in the palm of my hand. I just hang it from the towel rack, sync the Bluetooth to my phone (which I leave outside the door), and voilà—a sparkling-clean karaoke party. My particular speaker of choice (there are multiple options) is the Aquatune 5712, capable of being submerged in up to three feet of water for a half hour. I don’t know why I’d do that, but it’s pretty cool. It’s got a hefty battery life, so I rarely need to recharge it, and I can control my playlist from the speaker itself, meaning I never have to endure that crappy tribal-drums song in the middle of Pearl Jam’s Vs. ever again. For only 40 bucks, it’s an investment in improving your quality of life. [Alex McCown]

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Story

Not just another entry in the true-crime podcast genre, Untold: The Daniel Morgan Story tells a tale that begins with an £18,000 mugging, but quickly delves into a horrific ax murder, police corruption, media corruption, and the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal, which erupted 24 years after Morgan’s death. Morgan was a private investigator in South London who was bludgeoned to death in an empty pub parking lot in 1987. He may have been on the cusp of exposing a case of massive police corruption. It’s a bit melodramatic at times, with each episode beginning with a woman’s somber voice intoning, “If you haven’t heard this story, ask yourself—why?” Narrated by author and screenwriter Peter Jukes with help from Daniel Morgan’s brother Alastair, the hosts do tip their hands in favor of a certain suspect, but even just the breadth of this story is shocking, as are the connections to Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch. To answer the inevitable question: No, it’s not really like the first season of Serial, but if that podcast revealed a latent compulsion for true-crime stories and unsolved mysteries, this will satisfy. [Laura M. Browning]

The Heavenly Table


Donald Ray Pollock’s characters generally have shit lives filled with shit luck. In Pollock’s excellent third novel, one guy actually has shit for a job: sanitation inspector for a town that isn’t too keen on cleaning its outhouses. The Heavenly Table takes place in 1917, and weaves together the stories of a dozen desperate people who wind up—like Pollock’s characters in Knockemstiff and The Devil All The Time—in rural Ohio, where Pollock himself lives. At the center of the story are three dirt-poor brothers with great names—Cob, Cane, and Chimney—who turn outlaw immediately after their abusive, thick-headed father dies. Though they’re violent, desperate, and reckless, they’re not the biggest villains running around southern Ohio; nearly everyone else in The Heavenly Table is as bad or worse than the actual outlaws, from a serial killer to a rich kid with zero conscience. But just because they’re pretty much all bad doesn’t mean Table is depressing; it’s remarkably funny in the midst of its violence. In other words, it’s a lot like Pollock’s other two books, in the best ways. [Josh Modell]

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