This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 53m 13s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 ... MAHJONGG (MAHJONGH), FLAGG (FLAGH).
1. Objet d'art at auction in "Octopussy" : FABERGE EGG
The title for the 13th James Bond film "Octopussy" actually came from an original story by the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming. However, the movie bears no resemblance to Fleming's 1966 short story "Octopussy and the Living Daylights". This was one of the Roger Moore Bond movies, his second to last.
Fabergé eggs were beautiful jeweled eggs made by the House of Fabergé from 1885 to 1917. The tradition of fabricating the eggs started when Tsar Alexander III commissioned Fabergé to create a jeweled egg for his wife in 1885. After this, the House of Fabergé produced more and more elaborate designs, year after year.
11. Queens's ___ Stadium : ASHE
Arthur Ashe was a professional tennis player from Richmond, Virginia. In his youth he found himself having to travel great distances to play against Caucasian opponents, due to the segregation that still existed in Richmond. He was rewarded for his dedication by being selected for the 1963 US Davis Cup team, the first black player to be so honored. He still ran into trouble because of his ethnicity though, as in 1968 he was denied entry into South Africa to play in the South African Open. In 1979, Ashe suffered a heart attack and had bypass surgery. he had to have corrective surgery in 1983, and contracted HIV from blood transfusions during the surgery. He eventually passed away in 1993, due to complications from AIDS.
The Arthur Ashe Stadium is the main stadium where the US Open is played these days. It is the largest, tennis-only venue in the world.
16. Grps. sponsoring many book fairs : PTAS
The Parent Teacher Association supports schools by holding book fairs on occasions.
19. Big print: Abbr. : ENL
21. Rosaceous ornamental : SPIREA
The shrub spirea is used medicinally by Native Americans in particular, taken as a herbal tea. The main medicinal ingredient is methyl salicylate, an aspirin-like compound.
23. European princely dynasty name : ESTE
The House of Este is a princely dynasty in Europe.
24. Ancient dynasty name : PTOLEMY
The Ptolemaic dynasty was a Greek royal family that rules in Egypt in the years 305 BC to 30 BC. The dynasty started when Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great's bodyguards, was given charge of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC. Ptolemy and his descendants then became the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt, and ruled the country until the Romans took over in 30 BC.
28. Phil Mickelson specialty : FLOP SHOT
Phil Mickelson is the most famous left-handed golfer currently playing on the PGA Tour, but less well know is the fact that outside of golf, he is right-handed.
Phil Mickelson is a recognized master of the flop shot. In a flop shot, the club face is opened excessively, so that when the ball is chipped, it flies very high, and stops very quickly.
31. Bit of bread : ONE
A one (dollar bill) is a bit of "bread" (money).
The use of the word "bread" as a slang term for money dates back to the 1940s, and is derived from the term "breadwinner", meaning the person in the house who puts bread on the table, brings in the money.
33. What a V may indicate : PEACE
The V-sign, made with the palm facing outwards, was used as a victory sign by Winston Churchill during WWII. He was careful to point his palm outwards, as the V-sign made with the palm inwards has a very rude meaning in Britain and Ireland. The same victory sign was adopted as a peace sign in protests against the Vietnam War, a usage that spread and persists today.
34. Doesn't look normal : MUGS
The verb "mug" means to make an exaggerated facial expression. The term comes from drinking mugs (called Toby mugs) that are in the made in the shape of heads with grotesque expressions.
35. Its HQ is in D.C.'s Federal Triangle : IRS
The Internal Revenue Service does lots of audits, everyone's nightmare!. The IRS came into being during the Civil War, to raise money to pay for war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, taxation was limited to levies on trade and property.
38. It's played with 144 pieces : MAHJONGG
Mahjong (also mahjongg) is the Chinese word for sparrow.
40. Reading-and-feeding occasions : SEDERS
The Passover Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish passover holiday.
41. Heir, legally : ALIENEE
An alienee is one to whom ownership of property is transferred.
42. Cosmetic extremes? : CEES
There is a letter C (cee) at both the beginning and the end of the word "cosmetic".
44. Org. that subpoenaed Abbie Hoffman : HUAC
The House Un-American Activities Committee had nothing to do with Senator Joe McCarthy, who was Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which was managed by the Senate, not the House of Representatives. However, when Senator McCarthy was holding sway in the Senate, the HUAC was investigating similar allegations. The HUAC subpoenaed Abbie Hoffman in 1967, and again in 1968 after that year's Democratic National Convention.
Abbie Hoffman was the founder of the "Yippies", an activist group that had violent clashes with the police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
48. Rambos might wield them : UZIS
The first Uzi sub-machine gun was designed in the late 1940s, by Major Uziel Gal, who gave his name to the gun.
52. "The Labors of Hercules" painter : RENI
Guido Reni was a Italian Baroque painter. His work, "The Labors of Hercules" is on display in the Louvre in Paris.
53. Simple trattoria dressing : AGLIO E OLIO
Aglio e Olio is indeed a simple dressing, and the name translates into "garlic in oil". It is prepared by sauteing minced garlic in olive oil.
55. Common feature of a Dracula mask : WIDOW'S PEAK
A widow's peak is a distinct point in the hairline at the center of the forehead. The old belief was that the presence of such a feature in a woman was an omen of early widowhood.
2. Like many forum postings: Abbr. : ANON
Many online forum postings are anonymous.
4. Masthead figs. : EDS
The masthead is a list of found on the editorial page of a newspaper that lists the members of a newspaper's editorial board.
5. "Touché!" elicitor : RIPOSTE
"Touché" is a term from fencing, acknowledging a successful "touch" in a duel. The term has been extended to mean that a successful criticism or riposte has hit home in a conversation.
9. Std. in chronometry : GMT
Greenwich Mean Time is the time at the Prime Meridian, that runs through Greenwich in London.
A meridian is a line of longitude, and the Prime Meridian is that line of longitude defined as 0 degrees. It is also called the Greenwich Meridian, as it passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in southeast London. Of course, which line of longitude is used to represent 0 degrees is an arbitrary decision. 25 nations formally decided to use the Greenwich Meridian as 0 degrees as it was already a popular choice. That is all except the French, who abstained from the vote and used the Paris Meridian as 0 degrees on French charts for several decades.
11. Folks are often fooled when these arrive : APRILS
April Fool's Day is celebrated on April 1st in the western world. In the US (and Ireland) one can make practical jokes all day long if one wants. But, in the UK, there is a noon deadline. Anyone pranking after midday is called an "April Fool".
12. Magazine : STOREHOUSE
The word "magazine" was originally used to denote a place for storing goods, particularly military arms and ammunition. This usage dates back to the late 1500s. The first use of "magazine" in the sense of a periodical or journal dates back to 1731, with the publication of "Gentleman's Magazine". The title was used as "magazine" had come to mean a printed list of military stores, and the idea was that the new periodical was to be a "storehouse" of information.
14. What cribs might be used for : ESSAY TESTS
A crib is a plagiarism, most commonly the copying of an answer in an examination.
22. Venerated visitor : POPE
There is always a big celebration when the Pope comes to visit.
23. Himmel und ___ (apple-and-potato dish) : ERDE
Himmel und Erde is German for Heaven and earth, and is a traditional dish served in much of Germany. It consists of black (blood) pudding, fried onions and mashed potato served with apple sauce.
28. Fannie who wrote "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" : FLAGG
Fannie Flagg is the stage name of American actress Patricia Neil. Neil had to change her name to avoid confusion with the famous Oscar-winning actress of the same name. As well as acting, Flagg is a celebrated author, her most famous work being the 1987 novel, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe". She also wrote the screenplay for the screen adaptation "Fried Green Tomatoes" which was released in 1991.
30. It has a diagonal rib : SERGE
Serge is a type of twill fabric, with diagonal ridges on both sides. The name "serge" comes from the Greek word for "silken".
33. Plywood cutter : PANEL SAW
A panel saw is a sawing machine, often found in cabinet shops where they are used to cut cabinet components from plywood sheets.
34. Hospital administration, briefly : MEDS
Cleverly worded ...
36. A boxer may work on it : BONE
A boxer (dog) may chew on its bone.
37. Triangular nut producers : BEECHES
The small triangular nuts of the beech tree are edible, but are very bitter. The nuts are called "beechmast" or simply "beechnuts".
39. Daughter in "'night, Mother" : JESSIE
"'night, Mother" is a 1998 play by Marsha Norman. It sounds like depressing fare, telling the story of Jessie, who announces to her mother that she plans to commit suicide that night, and will be dead by morning.
40. Creature with a paddlelike tail : SEA COW
The more correct name for the creature we call a sea cow is sirenia, named after the sirens of Greek mythology. The legend is that lonely sailors mistook sea cows for mermaids.
42. "Antiques Roadshow" item : CURIO
"Antiques Roadshow" is a BBC show, sometimes seen here on PBS, in which professional auctioneers appraise antiques broad to them by the general public. In one episode of the American version of the show, four pieces of carved jade were presented for appraisal, and were given an estimated value of one million dollars!
44. You may hear Muzak when you're on it : HOLD
Muzak is a proprietary name for piped music, apparently a blend of the words "music" and "Kodak". The Muzak system was developed way back in 1922 and first used in workplaces.
45. ___ soprano : MALE
For an adult male to be a true male soprano, without singing in a falsetto voice, there usually has to be some endocrinological or physical aberration.
50. Hollywood techie's field, briefly : CGI