How Time Flys

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How Time Flys
How Time Flys cover.png
Studio album by David Ossman and the Firesign Theatre
Released 1973
Recorded 1973
Genre Comedy
Length 40:55
Label Columbia
Director David Ossman and Steve Gillmor
Producer Steve Gillmor
Firesign Theatre solo chronology
TV or Not TV (1973) String Module Error: Match not foundString Module Error: Match not found How Time Flys
(1973) How Time Flys1973
Phil Austin's Roller Maidens From Outer Space (1973) String Module Error: Match not foundString Module Error: Match not found

How Time Flys is a comedy album written by David Ossman and featuring the voice talents of all four members of The Firesign Theatre plus several other contributors. It was originally released by Columbia Records in 1973.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

NIGHTSIDEDECEMBER 31, 1999 (24:10)

  • CUT 1Mark's Awakening (Midnight) (4:40)
  • CUT 2"The Years In Your Ears" with Jim & Nellie Houseafire (recorded in May 1995) (6:30)
  • CUT 3Tweeny and "The Welcome Home" (pre-programmed in October 1995) (10:55)
  • CUT 4Manny, "Shortstop", and Lady Ann (Dawn) (2:05)

Side two[edit]

DAYSIDEDECEMBER 31, 1999 (16:45)

  • CUT 1Consumer Instruction Section with Patsy Pending & Bruno Uvula (Manditory) (2:10)
  • CUT 2Mark, Mr. Motion, and The Memory Loops with Manny and "Shortstop" aboard the "Gilda" (Noon) (8:05)
  • CUT 3Emergency Program Over-Ride with Jim Dundee and W. C. Bingle (Live from Panoramaland 2000) (5:55)
  • CUT 4The System Vs. The Black Hole (New Year's Eve) (:45)

Plot synopsis and commentary[edit]

The album tells the story of a solo astronaut, "Mark" (David Ossman) (the same "Mark Time" character who appears in other Firesign Theatre albums[1]), who was launched in a rocket from Earth years ago on an exploratory voyage to "Planet X". As the story opens, it is December 31, 1999, and Mark's rocket is approaching Earth to finally complete its mission. Mark is awakened from hibernation by the rocket's computer system, and a light-hearted history video recorded five years earlier is played for him to bring him up-to-date on the events that have taken place on Earth during the latter half of the 20th century while he was away. Although Mark is unable to communicate with his Earth landing site, he lands anyway and is greeted by an aged launch facility and an equally aged robot, "Tweeny" (Philip Proctor), who is the sole inhabitant of what is now the "President's Memorial Space Museum". It seems that Earth society has forgotten all about Mark; there are only holographic recordings (one of which is of a now-deceased President Gazatchorn (Phil Austin) who sounds like Richard Nixon) left to welcome him and congratulate him on accomplishing his mission.

As Mark resigns himself to the end of his space career and the start of his retirement, he is drugged unconscious and kidnapped, along with the holographic recordings he made during his voyage. He awakens to find himself high above the Earth in a Zeppelin, the guest of a "Mr. Motion" (Peter Bergman) who plans to market Mark's recordings as entertainment. Mark protests that his research should be made available to the news media and freely disseminated to the public, but Mr. Motion tells him that Mark's news would be judged as no more important than any of the other newsbites that the news media (where it's "All news, all the time") constantly publishes. Mark still protests that his information is "not entertainment, it's real", to which Mr. Motion counters that Mark simply went on location and took photos: that's entertainment.

Mr. Motion brings the Zeppelin above a theme park, "Panoramaland 2000" (not unlike Las Vegas in 2008) that features full-size holograms of world-famous buildings and monuments, and he begins to show Mark's holograms to the public. Mark's holograms combine with the theme park holograms, and the squid-like creatures of Planet X appear to cavort around the theme park. Mark escapes from the Zeppelin and is interviewed by the media, only to be interrupted by an emergency bulletin that announces that a black hole is approaching the Earth. The emergency announcer, however, portrays the upcoming catastrophe as just another interesting news event, albeit one that may finally provide an answer to "the question of infinity". Mark suddenly finds himself back in his rocketship, approaching Earth again; the black hole has put him into a time loop. It appears he will forever have to re-experience the day's events.


  • Philip Proctor as Tweeny®
  • Peter Bergman as Mr. Motion & Dr. Progresso Sweetheart
  • Phil Austin as President William D. Gazatchorn
  • Wolfman Jack as Jim Dundee
  • Harry Shearer & Penny Nichols (a singer[1]) as Jim & Nellie Houseafire
  • Lew Irwin as W. C. Bingle
  • Helena Kallianotes (one of the hitchhikers in Five Easy Pieces[1]) as Roxanne Pavemente
  • Jock Livingston (a Hollywood restaurant owner[1]) as Gen. George "Crash" Gorgon, USAF, Ret.
  • Tiny as Nurse Angela & Chuquita Bandana
  • Richard Paul as "Shortstop," Manny Grossero & Bruno Uvula
  • Anna Cheverton Drury as Lady Ann®
  • Jon Knoll as The Ground Control Dude
  • Sheilah Wells as Patsy Pending
  • Freddy Burns as Himself
  • Steve Gillmor as Arnie Zonker
  • Mike Rozsa and Scott Weintraub
  • David Ossman as "MARK"


  • Stereo LP - Columbia KC-32411
  • Audio CD - 126:LGH1149.2

LP Contents[edit]

The Stereo LP includes a stiff paper insert that can be broken apart and assembled to form a "3-D Diorama" of the album cover art, which shows Mark descending from the Zeppelin over Panoramaland 2000.

The LP insert states that the album was written and produced from March 11, 1973 to June 7, 1973 "in Wally Heider Studios 3 & 4 and on location".


  • David Ossman. How Time Flys. Columbia, 1973.
  1. ^ a b c d Ossman, David (May 2003). "David Ossman - How Time Flys CD". Retrieved 2008-04-09.