The Commuter Challenge

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.

The Results

Ryan Finholm


  • One megaton did not age me, no.
  • “We’d do mini-laps,” croaks Alaska orc S. Palin, “I’m odd. Ew.”
Brian Raiter

Anagrammed Maxims

  • Hollering tones stagger on mass.
  • License is longed.
  • The soot of hot gorse wood had foreign daggers.

Seven Letters or More

  • Newton’s formula proclaims matter’s product, including inverted distance squared, proportionally equates overall gravitational attraction.

Prisoner’s Constraint

  • an anemic moon rose over a nacreous ocean as we saw our enemies arrive in swarms across a sienna oasis in successive caravans — so morose a vision, an anxious woman near me swore, “innocuous reconnaissance mission or ravenous invasion?”


  1. I was hoping to come up with something truly extraordinary this month, a sentence that sounded real and natural, but had some amazing quality, and what I came up with was not that. I was hoping to make a pangram that used every letter in order and still had a reasonable length, or maybe a stunner of a palindrome that could pass for a normal sentence, or an amazing anagram. But wow, that’s hard.

    I started off trying palindromes, and they are really tricky. I figured the best way was to start in the middle and work outward. The problem is that the further you move from the middle, the fewer options you end up with and the more incomprehensible it gets. I found it impossible to come up with normal-sounding phrases of any length. Some other palindromes I came up with in November were, “But seven items met in Eve’s tub” and “Massage voltage begat love gas, Sam.” Terrible. There was another that I liked but didn’t submit because it isn’t a sentence: “Net Emu – Lovecraft farce volume ten.”

    The process for the Lovecraft one is a good illustration of how palindromes naturally devolve. I liked the idea of putting Lovecraft into a palindrome, and he had that great backwards “farce” inside his name. “Lovecraft farce” already sounds good, but then you’re stuck following it up with something that starts with “vol”. Since Lovecraft is an author, the best bet is to try to make it “volume”, which is a term often associated with books, but now you have H.P. Lovecraft writing humor about an emu. You see where I’m going with this. I suppose it could be turned into “Net – Lovecraft farce vol. ten” or “Emu – Lovecraft farce volume”, but you’re already in awkward wording territory and there’s no way out.

    Throughout November I also tried other approaches to come up with better extraordinary sentences, but nothing lived up to my hopes. I experimented with anagrams for a long time, and got fixated on the idea of doing western state anagrams. That fixation intensified when I noticed how many area-specific anagrams you could pull from the west coast states. For example: “Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California” can be shuffled around to make “No fishing or walking on a coastal area.” That would be kind of neat if it weren’t exactly wrong. I suppose you could do, “Fishing on, or walking on, a coastal area,” or “Fishing or walking; a coastal area noon,” but those sound awkward, and they are not sentences. I booted Alaska out of the equation and saw all of the precipitation you could get: “Washington, Oregon, and California” becomes “Grace in fog, to rain and hail on snow.” But you don’t really need Oregon in it either – “Washington and California” becomes “It can rain, hail, snow and fog.”

    But I digress. I should have added more constraints to the challenge, it would have given me more focus.

    by RyanF — 1 December 2012 @ 19:41

  2. My first set of three are anagrams of old sayings. I made some effort to have my anagrammed sentences vaguely match the structure of the originals. (To that end, I took advantage of the license to cheat a little with the first one, and altered a couple of the letters.) Hopefully it isn’t hard to figure out the originals.

    I wanted to do a sentence of words with eight letters or more, but I couldn’t quite pull it off, and had to fall back to seven. Unfortunately I wound up with a really awkward wording for the division part of the equation. About ten minutes after midnight I came up with a much simpler one. (After which I was kicking myself.)

    The Prisoner’s Constraint is named by the Oulipo, if memory serves. If you’ve never heard of it before, you should try to deduce the nature of the constraint before looking it up.

    by Brian — 3 December 2012 @ 22:53