McMenamins is a hospitality company in Portland that owns and oversees over 65 pubs, music venues, hotels, and theaters.  They own the Mission Theatre on 18th Ave & Glisan.  Formely an Evangelical Mission and a Longshoreman’s Union Hall, it now shows special screenings of cult classics, art films, and live music while offering McMenamins’ trademark craft beer.

It was here that I got to meet Bill Plympton.

"Double feature of both Animated Titanic movies won't be until next week."

I was first exposed to Bill Plympton while at MCAD when I was shown his feature film “The Tune”.  I thought it was charming and creatively animated, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that Plympton animated every frame of the 70 minute film by himself.  And he’s done this for five feature length films and numerous shorts.  He has his own team at his studio Plymptoons that help digitally color and edit his films these days, but all of the frames are still personally drawn by him.

This is why in those days I tried to coin the phrase “Bill Plympton Is A Bad Ass”.  I encourage you to spread it around if you can.

"I'm just gonna stand up here and be awesome, if that's okay."

His work isn’t limited to his own films though.  Bill Plympton has also produced shorts for numerous others.  Being a born and raised Oregonian (shut up it’s a word), he had the honor of animating the “Simpsons” couch gag where Springfield was revealed to be in Oregon.  They even played the clip for us, a beautifully ironic move since we were literally a block away from Flanders St (HA!).  He revealed that when he presented the clip to Fox producers, the only thing they objected to was a brief moment where a character smoked a cigarette.  Can’t have smoking in our clip about the Simpsons’ couch stripping and whoring herself, because that would be wrong.

Well, at least she's not smoking.

We weren’t just there to tell Bill Plympton how awesome he was though (although there was no shortage of that, I assure you).  We were there because filmmaker Alexia Anastasio had just made a documentary called “Adventures In Plymptoons!” celebrating Bill’s life and career and the people he’s worked with an influenced.  It featured stories about the production of all of his films, and interviews with people such as Terry Gilliam, Ralph Bakshi, Matthew Modine, Keith Carradine, Ed Begley Jr., Ron Jeremy (yes really) and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who had Plympton animate his music video for “Don’t Download This Song”.

I had felt fortunate to get invited to this event, and fortunate that I had gotten invited to a lot of events I have to in Portland so far.  It’s funny; if I were back in Chicago right now, I’d probably be in my parents’ basement drinking too much Evan Williams and surfing Wikipedia mindlessly.  Instead I’m having kickass micro brew with one of my idols while he presided over a film about his amazing work.

I won’t lie.  There was a point I considered leaving early to attend another event I had been invited to the same evening.  But perhaps serendipity was in play because midway through the evening, my iPhone crashed.  Never fear, I figured out how to reboot it when I got home and I already had the local bus schedule memorized, but looking up the address for the other venue was impossible.

I realized then it was The Universe trying to tell me something.  It was telling me: “Hey, Seamus?  You don’t have to network your ass off and exhaust yourself all the time.  You’ve just traveled across the country taking a shot at this new city and its opportunities.  How about, instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make an impression, you slow down and enjoy a film about an artist you admire?”

The Universe was right.  Running around like a chicken with its head cut off got me nowhere back in Chicago.  The second event I was thinking of heading to was something I could attend again easily (and plan to later).  Meeting Bill Plympton was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I knew that’s what I had to come.

Time to just sit back and enjoy the moment for once.

And enjoy I did.