The Commuter Challenge

3 December 2012

The December 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 22:35

Create one (or more) pages for a calendar for the year of 2013, like the ones that seem to fill up the chain bookstores around this time. It can be a wall calendar, a desk calendar, or something else entirely.

Your only constraint is that the calendar must in some manner reflect the fact that it is meant for the time after the 13th baktun.


2 November 2012

The November 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 15:04

Write one original sentence that is in some way extraordinary – preferably extraordinary in terms of format rather than content.


  • Write a sentence that is a word palindrome.
  • Write a sentence that uses all of the consonants in order.
  • Write a sentence that only contains words of eight letters or longer.

Try to make the sentence as cogent/comprehensible as possible despite its extraordinary characteristics. Cheating is allowed. If there is no way to fit it all into one sentence, it can spill over into another. Other ‘cheats’ are fine too, as long as the sentence is an original creation.


1 October 2012

The October 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 01:06

Write a speech that you’ll be giving to either:

  1. formally apologize on behalf of your company for a recent PR gaffe, safety violation, large-scale ecological disaster, or the like; or
  2. concede the loss of an election to your opponent.

The people, organizations and incidents that your speech addresses can be either real or fictional. The text of your speech can be anywhere from 500 to 5000 words long.


2 September 2012

The September 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 17:59

This month’s challenge is Spooky Sonnets:

Write two or more spooky sonnets. The subject of at least one of the sonnets must be a typical Halloween character/monster (vampire, witch, mummy, werewolf, etc., use your best judgment). The other sonnet(s) can also be about Halloween monsters, or they can describe a creepy landscape, or a grisly situation, etc.


1 August 2012

The August 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 15:02

This month’s challenge is: Sketchfight!

Throughout the month of August, we will follow the challenges on, but instead of recording songs we’ll be drawing sketches.

If you’re unfamiliar with songfight, how it works is simple. Periodically a song title is posted to the website. During the next seven days anyone can compose, record, and submit an original song with the given title. All the submissions are then posted to the website, and voted on to determine the winner.

We’ll be skipping over the voting part of the process, but otherwise we’ll be following their lead. When a new title and deadline is posted, you have that much time to create an illustration with the given title. All entries will be posted to our website immediately following the deadline.

There are no requirements as to size, materials, style, etc. That said, you should take an informal approach to your submission, as appropriate to a “sketch”. Think first drafts as opposed to final drafts.

Finally, note that also accepts cover-art submissions for reach songfight. You are very much encouraged (but not required) to submit your sketches as cover art.

Sketch Fights

  • Due August 4th: “She Calls Everybody Baby” [warm-up round]
  • Due August 20th: “Hatchet” [standard round]
  • Due August 31st: “No Brakes” [“scribblefight” round]


1 July 2012

The July 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 22:01

Compose and submit three original jokes and/or riddles. Each of the three jokes must be in any well-known format, such as:

  • How many         does it take to change a light bulb?
  • What do you get when you cross a         with a        ?
  • Why did the         cross the road?
  • A        , a        , and a         walk into a bar …
  • Yo momma so        
  • Knock knock. Who’s there?        
  • What’s black and white and red all over?

Et cetera. You may use your own judgement regarding what you understand to be a common type of joke.

All three jokes/riddles must be utterly original inventions by you, and they must each be completely new this month.


4 June 2012

The June 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 22:39

Recreate an existing creation as if it had been done by somebody else.

Unlike last month, this time you’re not limited to poetry. How would Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” read if it had been written by Philip K. Dick? What if Salvador Dali had been commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel? Or answer the burning question: How would your nine-year-old niece have carved Akhenaton’s statue?

And instead of focusing on dead artists this time, one or both of your creators should be relatively recent — 20th century at the earliest. Bonus points if both artists are still alive today.


3 May 2012

The May 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 11:33

Be a favorite dead poet (almost).

Write an original poem, in any format and of any length, in the style of one of your favorite dead poets. Try to emulate that poet’s style as convincingly as possible. If you prefer lengthy/epic poetry, a shorter version (in that poet’s style) is acceptable. Or you can provide an excerpt of a poem whose original version may or may not actually exist, or you could create a ‘missing verse’ to a famous poem. Other than style, the only constraint is to include at least one element that ruins the illusion – for example, if you are borrowing the style of Sappho (d. circa 570 BC), include a reference to Oklahoma (est. 1907). Or if you are emulating Allen Ginsberg (d. 1997), mention the Patriot Act (2001).


1 April 2012

The April 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 22:30

We will be returning to illustration in April. The challenge is to create a image which is centered around a chessboard. The chessboard and its pieces can be the whole of the illustration, or it can just function as the image’s focal point. But it must play a central role in the image. There are no further requirements as to the contents or the purpose of the image. Render your favorite moment from 1999’s Kasparov vs. Toplov, or use this opportunity to present your own idea for a chess set.

If you’re really feeling the need for a challenge, forgo the 2-D requirement and create your own chess pieces, in which case you can earn bonus points for sending your prototype to the Franklin Mint for consideration.


2 March 2012

The March 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 18:11

Write and record an original song of any style and any length, but using no more than three chords. Submit a Ramonesesque three-chord masterpiece, create your own two-chord “Dreams” or “Horse With No Name”, or come up with a new one-chord wonder like “O Superman” or “We Will Rock You”.

Permitted options that might make this challenge easier: You may get help with the composition and/or production of the song from as many people as you want, and they may help you to any extent that you like. Instrumentals are allowed (as are songs with lyrics/voice, of course). You are allowed to use common formats/chord progressions (the twelve-bar blues, for example) for the basis of your original composition. Or, if you prefer to take a different route, you are also allowed to go as avant-garde as you like, just as long as it includes no more than three different chords.

Also, if you use different forms of a chord, they all count as the same chord; D, D minor, D7, and Dm7sus4 all count as the same chord. Please note that D and D# count as two separate chords. You have met the requirements of the challenge if someone can play along with your song using no more than three different ‘base note and fifth’ combinations.


3 February 2012

The February 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 07:50

Write an essay, between 2000 and 4000 words long, about something you think is interesting. Show the rest of us why we should consider it interesting too. It can be anything from a genial explication of science in the style of Isaac Asimov, or a gonzo drug-fueled screed in the style of Hunter S. Thompson.


4 January 2012

The January 2012 Challenge

by CC @ 21:12

Compose a poem of any length and format using only found phrases/text – street signs, courtroom transcripts, spam email – anything at all is fair game except for other poems or lyrics. You may add, change, or disregard punctuation if you like. Free-form, free-verse poetry is perfectly acceptable. You must also provide your sources (a list is fine, or a set of links, or photos, or whatever is applicable). See some information and examples at