Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Nonstarters”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upThis week we’re looking for a five-letter word. Apologies in advance, I’ve been on a skiing weekend away and just getting to this Sunday evening, so I don’t have much time to devote to it, but let’s dive in and see if serendipity strikes. The four longest across entries have very similar clues:
- 18a. [A starter starts it], CAR ENGINE – I currently have a lawn tractor that won’t start–I think it’s the solenoid, is that the same as the starter in a car? Is the alternator involved? Obviously, I have a lot to learn about engine repair!
- 20a. [A starter starts it], MARATHON – my fifth is coming up late April in Nashville–wish me luck!
- 55a. [A starter starts it], BASEBALL – the first pitcher that pitches for each team (identified before the game) is the “starter,” as opposed to a “closer” who finishes it
- 59a. [A starter of a sort], APPETIZER – yes indeed
So my first thought was this was pretty thin theme-wise (2 8’s and 2 9’s) and they were unusually placed in the grid, with a lot of space in the middle that had no explicit thematic reference. My spidey sense had me then thinking other entries must be involved, but which ones?
For one, NO PUN (clued as [What might be intended]) is a very odd entry, particularly in an area that doesn’t have an obvious theme entry nearby to constrain it. That led me to ONE NO and perhaps NORAD, UNO and NODS? How about the negative NULL? Or ON END which has the clue [Nonstop]? Looks like I’m a nonstarter on this one and will have to leave it here. Gloating in the comments is more than welcome!