Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things - Steve Lowe, Alan McArthur and Brendan Hay 

Grand Central Publishing

Sadly, the best thing about "Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things" is its title. It's the kind of moniker that makes one think, "Wow, I can't believe they had the balls to use a dirty word in the name! This one must be funny."

Not so fast there. Brits Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur "? with Yankee Brendan Hay contributing "? put their too-cool-for-you heads together to fashion this alphabetical, encyclopedic look at things that piss them off. There are plenty, from homophobic Christians and Alicia Keys to carbon offsets and penis-enlargement e-mails. A short, snarky essay is given for each entry. The trouble is, they're just not all that funny.

Every now and then, a good line rises to top. Example: "Of all the cold-and-flu-relief citrus-flavored powered drinks, only Emergen-C encourages you to, quote, 'Feel the good.' Apparently the more direct 'Feel the chalky water' didn't test as well." Another, on CD soundtracks for TV shows like "CSI: Miami": "That quite good drama of Florida-based forensic work certainly enlightened our Monday-evening viewing "? let's get the background music from the bits where they were walking down corridors."

But more often, the jokes are just tired, limp or not jokes at all, brushing off subjects ripe for skewering potential with lazy lines like "Vacuous jerk-off" or "You thieving shits." The entirety of the entry for "Volume of TV Ads" reads, "Too loud." Ouch, what rapier wit!

"?Rod Lott  

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