top of page



On the right-hand side of the page you will see a button titled “Send a free sample.” Click on it. Be sure to indicate where you want it sent.

180 pages

paperback: $14.95

ebook: $8.99

Buy paperback at

Buy Kindle ebook at 

You don't need a Kindle e-reader to read it.

The Kindle ebook can be read on a phone, iPad or other tablet, PC or Mac. It's easier to read on a large screen than on a phone.


Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9988835-4-0

  • Did you really hear what you think you heard?

  • Did you really read what you think you read?

  • Did you really say what you meant to say?

  • Did you really write what you meant to write?

The wrong words or unsaid words (even imagined words) can ruin a meal, end a relationship or start a war. Be careful!

This informative, important and entertaining book recounts some of the worst failures to communicate that led to disappointments, disagreements, divorce and military escalation—and provides vital advice for avoiding trouble.

Topics include medicine, marriage, military, music, media, mondegreens, law, food, business, real estate, writing, publishing, construction, signs, names, language, religion, idioms, homonyms, heteronyms, relationships, railroads and sex.

In the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman starred as Luke Jackson, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp in the early 1950s. Luke was a decorated war veteran sentenced to serve two years on a chain gang for cutting parking meters off their poles while drunk. He frequently defied the prison’s authorities and even trivial violations resulted in a night in “the box,” a tiny room with little air to breathe and little room to move.

Luke refused to observe the status order of the prisoners and ran afoul of the leader, Dragline (George Kennedy). When the pair had a boxing match Luke was severely outmatched but refused to quit. Eventually Dragline stopped fighting but Luke’s tenacity earned him the prisoners’ respect.

He later won a poker game by bluffing with a terrible hand. Luke said that “sometimes, nothing can be a real cool hand,” prompting Dragline to nickname him “Cool Hand Luke.” He became a leader of the prisoners, and escaped from the prison several times.

Luke often frustrated the sadistic captain (Strother Martin) who was puzzled and amused by Luke’s obstinacy and willingness to accept both physical and psychological punishment, which could’ve been avoided by following rules.


Anchor Aweigh (almost)

Nuclear War Against Northern Lights

Ricky And Linda

“Communications” Communicates Nothing

What Does a Sign Communicate?

Can You Understand Doctorish?

Maybe Grandsons Are Interchangeable

There Is No Communications In The Telephone Business

Terminal Condition

Sandra And Larry

Selling Minutes

Home Sweet What?

Yell “FIRE,” not “SHIT”

Idioms can be Confusing, or Fatal

Business Failure

Check With Mommy, And Read the Laws

The Big Blackout Almost Caused a War

Legibility Is More Important than Looking Cool

Call Who, Where?

Can a Computer Error Start a War?

Abundant Imperfections: Some Of My Favorite Failures

Maria And Stephen

When Is An Arch Not An Arch?

Jargon: Did You Hear What You Think You Heard

Can Your Lips Sink a Ship, Or Crash a Plane?

The Lawyer Was a Liar

Name Changes

Food Can Be Confusing

I’m Good, But Not Always Right

Homonyms, Etc.

Opposite Or not?

Why Real People Sometimes  Need  To  Speak Like Beverly Hillbillies

Get It In Writing

But Daddy, I’m not a Gangster

Crawdads In Manhattan

Which Way Is Up?

Yakkity Yak, Don’t Talk Back

Canine Communications (with sarcasm)

Diary Of a Couch (This May Piss Off Macy’s)


Familiarity Breeds Misunderstandings

News People Don’t Know Everything

Beware Of Linguistic Time Warps

Opposites May Not Have Opposite Meanings

Who’s Listening to You?

I Lost the Trial But Won The Case

The USA Is a Multilingual Nation

I Skipped The Trial But Won the Case

But When Is The Trial?

Verdict for the Amateur Professional, Or Maybe the Prof’l Amateur

Listen To The Lyrics (ometimes)

Silent sisters

Witch Hospital?

My Coulda-Been Wives

Is The Episcopal Church Almost As Good As Catholic?

Who’s In Charge?

Clarifying Noahide And Naugahyde

Is Christian Science Scientific?

Communicating Sex, Or Not

Creative Communications

Premarital Communications (why I married Marilyn)

Boys Are Dumb

Final Recommendations

Michael’s Literary Gods

About The Author

Text For Michael’s Gravestone

Photo & Illustration Credits

More Books By Michael

The quotation used by the prison captain, which begins with “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” was ranked as Number 11 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 most memorable movie lines. It has become part of American culture, a source of homage in movies, television, music―and this book’s title.

Useful & Funny 

The book's title comes from the acclaimed 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman.
bottom of page