This page is devoted to the many friends that I am so lucky to have. I don't know what I did to deserve a great group of people like this in my life, but for some reason, they've always been there for me. This little spotlight on my website is, I guess, some small way of saying thank you to everyone.
Some would credit Justin and I with being the founders of the elite group known as Hilton's A-Team... Well, those people would be right. Not to brag or anything! But seriously, folks, where would I be without this man? From creating a Celebrity Newsletter during the lulls in Keyboarding class, to checking on Pokémon stock in John Farnham's Economics class, we were always up to something. In fact, the infamous A-Team website itself is a testament to the fact that we always seek to bring entertainment to all, keep connected with our friends, and, above all, the fact that we both have way too much time on our hands.
During senior year I would look forward to "B-Days" especially, when Justin and I would take a trip up to Wilson Farms in the Pimpmobile, and enjoy some Healthy Refreshment, SoBe style. In the years to follow we would survive getting lost in the city on the way to see 3 Doors Down, and survive a brush with death in the city going to see them again.
Justin is now a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, having mastered the fine art of animation, and I am at Fredonia taking Media Arts. Some day in the not too distant future, we will combine forces and create Dimino & Radford Productions, revolutionizing Hollywood for all time. Until then, The A-Team website remains the extent of our creative outlet to the masses. In the meantime, however, we still have bowling nights and Intense Vanilla Milk to keep us going.
Where do I begin with this girl? I first met her at Tom Elias's birthday party in January of 2003, right after I'd transferred to Fredonia. What's funny is that we barely noticed each other that night, and now I can't imagine my life without her.
It wasn't until the next semester, when Mark and I started hanging out with (and playing video games with) Tom and Pam more often, that I got to know Pam's roommate Amanda Schleef much better. Slowly, over the course of trips to McKinley Mall, 4 AM McDonald's breakfasts, Mario Party marathons and late night IM conversations, I came to know Amanda's sense of humor and fun loving personality, as well as her passion for music. Neither of us is sure exactly when we started to fall for each other, but when we held hands after Amy and Eileen's Christmas party, it became clear that something was happening... even though we didn't talk about it for weeks!
Our first date was in January 2004, over a year since we'd first met. We went out to dinner at the Olive Garden, and to see Cheaper By The Dozen. It was one of the best nights of my life. We both had a great time, and, a few weeks later on February 2nd, I asked Amanda to be my girlfriend. (She said yes!)
I can't really put into words how amazing this girl is. To use an analogy that she would enjoy, she adds music to my life in places where there used to be silence. Her smile and laugh can get me through anything, and she makes me happier than I've been in a long time! Going for walks around campus, watching Full House and Family Feud over dinner together every night, going to the drive-in, playing on my elementary school playground, the Valentine's Day trip to Canada, the BNL Concert, Movin' Out, Jerry Seinfeld... we sure know how to have fun! I'm so lucky to have found this girl. I Love you, Amanda Rose! :o)
I first met Jeff in 7th grade. He sat two desks behind me in Mr. Rose's math class. Yet, I didn't really get to know him until a year later, in 8th grade. I think our friendship really began when we were partners in Mr. Gilbert's class on the Trail To Gilbeyville project (a.k.a. playing Oregon Trail). Soon after we began sitting together on the transfer bus to the high school, looking for the chair in the woods as "Breakfast At Tiffany's" played on the radio. Our misadventures in Jr. High included the Washington Trip, shindigs at Arnold's, and walks into town on half days with Mark and Jeremy.
In high school, we would never forget French class with Ms. Kelly. Great times were had sitting with Moon and reading Bazooka Joe comics when we should have been conjugating verbs. Moon was a constant source of amusement, whether he was making disgusted noises when a certain student walked into the room, or marveling over "romantic paintings" of naked women. After the ill-fated CLEP exam at the end of the year, Fose, Moon and I planned a big group outing to Nick Tahou's to celebrate. We even passed around a sign-up sheet in class to try and get everyone to come along. Nearly everyone signed up to go, but in the end, it was just the three of us.
After French, it was off to Pre-Calc, to count how many times Miss Brown said "okay," and point at the back of Mike Lane's shirt.
In our senior year, we'd occasionally sneak out of school during lunch and take a ride in Grandma Nelly (Jeff's car, you perverts), usually with Mark and/or Cara in tow. Possibly our greatest plan that went awry was when we left school to go see Man On The Moon. We got to the theater only to find that it wasn't playing until like 6:00 in the evening, and then turned around and went back to school. Rebels without a cause.
But in the end, nothing could really beat late night trips to Wegmans and Media Play, in search of Frankenberry Cereal, new magazines to read, or... "Mark..? Pam...? Alicia...?"
Guess you had to be there.
The tale of how I first met Mark varies depending on who you ask. I first remember meeting Mark in Mr. Kane's music class. I was wearing a Spider-Man shirt, and he asked me if I ever watched the Spider-Man cartoon. We then proceeded to discuss the show at length. Mark's version is that I told him to get out of my seat on the first day of Earth Science. I don't remember doing that, but, if he says I did, then I guess I must have. Sorry, Mark.
Mark is probably one of the most unique individuals I have ever known. His efforts to down numerous packets of Sweet-N-Low, jump off bridges, swim across ponds and the like usually has the rest of his friends worried, but, as he likes to point out, he is "undefeated against death."
Mark and Jeff and I used to go to the Hilton Carnival for a couple years in a row. The tradition pretty much was, walk around the carnival, try and win a goldfish, and then go across the street and hang out at Big M and the bowling alley. One year, we saw Hulk Hogan at McDonald's, and he was all drunk and yelling at the workers about how he didn't want to throw out his trash. It was really weird. Other memorable events include the Billy Joel concert that Mark, Jeff and I went to, where Mark sang "Eye of the Tiger" and got mean looks from some guy, and the time Mark and I dressed up like Oreo Cookie Man at the Grand Opening of Super Wal-Mart and gave out cookies to crying kids.
Between the two of us we managed to pass AP European History by the skin of our teeth, despite making a really hilarious "News Report Video," the full contents of which were unsuitable to be shown in front of the class, especially the infamous Weather Report, though Jeff's appearance as King Louis was a hit. This is probably part of what later led to Mark and I persuing the idea of a Cable Access Show with Time Warner, but that, as of this writing, is a dream yet to be fulfilled.
After we finally graduated high school, the crowning glory of Grad Party Summer 2000 was the Jello Olympics at Mark's party, including the Jello Pool and Jello Slip-N-Slide. Not to mention a fun-filled game of Dizzy Bat Kickball, and some delicious Cookies On Sticks, all of which made Mark's a party that none would soon forget. But I think it was the end of the party that was the most touching. All thoughout high school, Mark had often brought in various Pez dispensers and handed out Pez every morning in front of his locker. As everyone left the party, Mark gave each of us a Pez dispenser out of his prized collection. It was more than just a piece of plastic that holds delicious candy, it was a reminder of those early morning gatherings in the halls as we prepared to start another day of school. My Charlie Brown Pez dispenser still sits proudly on my bedroom desk.
Once I came to Fredonia, Mark and I got to hang out a lot more. Even before we roomed together, we used to get together every Tuesday and Thursday and play Heroclix at Mike's (somehow we had a key to his apartment, and we were usually in there before Mike got back from class). We would play until dinner time, then go raid the Williams Center for food, come back and watch Survivor or Crank Yankers, depending on which night it was.
Then, the semester we spent rooming together at 108 Brigham was one of the most fun times of my life. It was a semester of video games, TV, lots of Heroclix and eating Ramen noodles for dinner every single night... not to mention staying up until until ridiculous hours of the morning, discussing things like whether Superman could beat The Hulk in a fight, or if anyone could conceivably kill Wolverine.
Cara used to give me rides home from school a lot during senior year. I think that's when we first really started to become friends. I had a partial schedule, but no car as of yet, so when I couldn't catch a ride with Justin, I'd have to walk home. Then Cara was nice enough to offer me a ride one day, and I kept bumming rides off her for a long time, until she blew her knee out. Oh well. But, we had a lot of in-depth conversations about school, friends, and the meaning of life during those 5 minutes each day as we drove to my house, and I really came to appreciate it as a highlight of my day. Strangely, though, she was very convinced that I lived in the blue house that was actually next door to my house. Sometimes I had to pretend I really did live there, and just go to my real house after she left.
Cara was also an integral player in late night Yahoo Conferences with me, Jeff, and Mark. Sometimes those Conferences would yield wisdom and reveal facets of our personalities that none of us ever knew existed. More often than not, they resulted in a lot of awkward silences, Jeff typing out lyrics to songs the rest of us had never heard of, and taking turns going, "So...."
Cara and I are also often the coconspirators behind many a Movie Night, which began with the foundation of Unbreakable Club, and has turned into a fun tradition whenever we are all on break from school. I'm still greatful for all those rides home, and, I think maybe I repaid her when I helped her make the transition from wearing her watch on the right hand, to wearing it on the left.
I had known Mike for a long time, but I didn't really become friends with him until our senior year, when I was invited to join him and Jeff C for a trip to All Heroes Comics. Life was never quite the same after that. Weekly trips to get comics led to discussions of the finer points of Batman, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. A few years (and many a paycheck) later, we still invest a good deal of money in All Heroes, and have even made two trips to Wizard World Chicago and a trip to Wizard World Philly.
Mike always cracks me up with his fast talking nature and quick wit. We also have similar creative visions. We have both sent each other stories that we've written, and he has acted in two of my film projects for RIT and a film and an interactive game I made for Fredonia. We often bounce story and film ideas off of one another, and I have no doubt that our collective overactive imaginations will one day lead to some really amazing collaborations.
Since I came to Fredonia, Mike and I have logged countless hours of Heroclix and had more ridiculous late night outings than should really be allowed. Whether it was throwing darts at BJ's or setting records on Ms. Pac-Man, any time we went out, we had a blast. We also probably took years off of our lives with all the Hook and Ladder garbage plates and PWT chicken finger subs that were consumed at ungodly hours of the morning.
Probably our proudest achievement so far was when we departed for Wizard World Philly at 9:00 at night, for the sole purpose of meeting one Allison Mack. One night of Red Bull, Dave Matthews and an hour of sleep later, we were in her glorious presence. One thing I've learned from Mike is that anything is possible, and that the only limitations you have are the ones you set for yourself.
Jeff is the other key player in the All Heroes trio. We also used to go bowling and to Laser Quest all the time back in the day. As "Neo," he was always one of the best sharpshooters of the LQ era, holding down the fort against Guttshot and the little hellions that would foolishly try to take on the forces of the A-Team.
When I first came to Fredonia, Jeff and Megan helped me adjust to the transition with a Tuesday-Thursday lunch routine at the Cranston dining hall. The food was often hit-or-miss, but hanging out with them was always fun, and the hope of chocolate cake or the chicken-wing-island kept us going back for more. Even more of a mystery than the food was the indentity of the masked man who showed up one day and flipped his cup in the air, then vanished into the night. Who was that masked man? We may never know.
Jeff and I capped off our Fredonia Media Arts experience with an animated adaptation of The Ultimates, one of our favorite comic book series. We cast our friends as the voice roles, and added music and sound effects. It was an endeavor that kept us up til 3 AM many nights, working tirelessly in the Media Arts lab, and certainly took a toll on our sanity, but in the end we had created a project that we are both extremely proud of. In August of 2004 I gave copies of it to some of the Marvel Comics staff at Wizard World Chicago, including Mark Millar, creater of The Ultimates. So, the fruits of our labor are floating around the Marvel staff somewhere... hopefully we will end up with high paying jobs as executives at Marvel soon. Either that or we'll just keep wondering where our tuition dollars went?
I first met Tom at one of Arnold's infamous "shindigs" in Junior High. Even though I'd never met him before, his knowledge of video games rather impressed me and he seemed like a pretty cool kid. Soon we would sit at the same lunch table every day in high school, accompanied by a rogues gallery of misfits. Who could forget that first year of high school when lunch was a full 40 minutes long! (What were they thinking?) Playing our own version of euchre every day, where crossboarding is encouraged and the "69 Ten" beats even the bowers, Statmiller talking about the Slush Bitch and Greg speaking Garbonics... man, it didn't get any better than that.
In more recent years, since I came to Fredonia, Tom was a real staple in the Nintendo Entertainment Society. When we busted out fan favorites like the Game Genie and the Konami Code, Tom was all about it. The trips to McKinley mall to find the old games were big events that we both got really excited about. Tom may not have had the best luck with the dice as Kid Koopa when we would play Mario Party, but it was always fun watching him get pissed at "Boo," a.k.a. Mark, for beating the crap out of everyone else. Also, it was often Tom's idea to stay up until 4 AM to get McDonald's Breakfast. In the long run it was usually a pretty bad idea, but it always sounded so good at the time, and the Sausage McMuffins were definitely worth it once we had them.
Pam is one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I consider myself lucky to have her as a friend. In high school, we both suffered through Piovanetti's AP History class sophomore year ("Let them eat cake!"), Herzog's Physics class junior year (the Julius Sumner Miller videos!), and Ackroyd's English class senior year (Jimmy's offensive t-shirts and inappropriate comments). And, of course, as one of the original A-Team Ladies, Pam was always on hand for bowling, Laser Quest, Taco Bell and whatever else we could come up with.
Since I came to Fredonia, it's hard for me to even keep track of all the wonderful things Pam has done for me. One day out of the blue, Pam called me up and told me to come over to Tom's, because she had some old comic books and wanted to know if I wanted any of them. I picked through them and came up with a stack of old Spider-Man, Justice League and Superboy comics, to name a few... almost 40 in total. I asked Pam if she wanted anything for them, and she said no. I asked if she was sure, and she replied, "All I want is for you to enjoy them." And I certainly did... I think I read about 10 of the Spider-Man issues that next day alone!
I won't even go into how many weekend mornings Pam and Amanda invited me for breakfasts that consisted of eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausages... you name it! Plus many nights of being invited over for chili, lasagna, hot dogs, or some other delicious dinner, the highlight of which had to be the Homemade Garbage Plate nights. Honestly, those were some of the best Plates I've ever had, second only to Tahou's.
But, the moment that stands out in my mind when I think of Pam, is the birthday present she gave me this year. Pam makes these little figures out of clay pots, called Pot People. When I first saw one of them, I offhandedly mentioned how cool it would be to have a Superman Pot Person. I honestly forgot all about it, until, a few days before my birthday, Pam could wait no longer, and presented me with my very own Superman Pot Person. It was so detailed, from the sculpted hair with the curl in the front, right down to the cloth cape glued to his back. I was really astonished and touched by a gift that had obviously had so much care and time put into it. Pot Person Superman currently stands watch over my room from his vantage point on the nightstand next to my bed.
Greg is the one who first gave me the nickname "Russkafin." I'm not sure exactly where it came from, just somewhere in Greg's mind I guess, but I liked it and somehow it stuck.
In high school, Greg was always quick with the jokes at the lunch table. Most often he was imitating Gary Lewis (The Garbonic Language), or, later on, ripping on Moochie Bojangles for his constant use of the word "Daaaaang!" His sarcastic nature and quick wit kept everyone laughing. His taste in movies is also excellent... "Twins and Sisters Too" made my birthday sleepover party a real hit back in the day!
This man has been my mentor since 5th grade. He has taught me everything I know about the opposite sex, and many lessons about life in general. I have boxes full of cassette tapes from the "radio show" we did in our younger days, and they all still hold up as some of the funniest things I've ever heard in my life. By far the best one is when were making Apple Tart Fritters for Ms. Kelly's French class, and Mike busts out with an impression of Mr. Hornburg. I only wish our "OJ Simpson Video" would resurface, as it seems to have somehow vanished. Our IM conversations are equally outrageous, and often turn into games of Word Association that range from bizarre to disgusting.
As much as we do joke around, I know I can turn to Mike when I need advice, and he will always offer his unique words of wisdom. Though we don't see each other as often as we used to, we still, on occasion, find time to visit our old elementary school teacher, Mr. Kruchten, and/or reminisce about our glory days over a garbage plate at Tahou's.