I wish I had more time, but I thoroughly enjoyed being home for the holidays. It was a brief visit, but I was able to spend some quality time with family and friends. I also made away with some good loot! I do miss it already, the comforts of home and the smell of the Christmas tree. The older I grow, the more fond I become of the subtle things about the holidays. The decorations throughout the house. The large meal with have with family. So many little things. Winston is a great place, but it is simple because of my family and the friends remaining there. If everyone were to leave Winston I'd still think it was a decent place, but it wouldn't be on the top of my vacation list.
Regardless, it was great to see Erich, Greg, Alex, Sarah, Allison, Katie and Scottie. Those are the few good friends who still call Winston home for the holidays. Or at least stop by to visit. I was able to spend time with Steve and Christine, their son Jacob and the newest addition to their family, beautiful daughter Cami. She was born in August, and this was the first time I was able to see her and hold her. Steve and Chris have been such great friends and support for me over the years, it is wonderful to see their family grow. They are tremendous parents, and I am amazed they are able to spend time with each other, the kids and both work. It is remarkable, but speaks highly of their character.
I'm sure I could spend an entire Lowe Down on each of my friends. They are all very important to me. It is always good to spend time with them, especially my good buds Alex, Greg and Erich. Every time we see each other it feels rushed, but I am fortunate for the time. They are three amazing guys, and they are easily people who I could see having family outings with in the far distant future. I certainly want my kids kicking their kids' asses.
As much as I enjoy the company of my friends, it doesn't match hanging out with my family. We are still slightly dysfunctional, as we've always been, but find me a family who isn't and I would be amazed. Everyone is getting older, but my mom and dad still look young. Dad's having a bit of a problem with his hip, but he knows what he needs to do to take better care of himself. If he acts like he doesn't, rest assured I will remind him. Mom still loves working and watching basketball. She is taking much better care of herself than she did during the difficult months after Granny passed. Marian is still one of my best friends. We laugh, we yell, we hug and we understand each other. She knows to tell me when I'm being an ass, and I know when to tell her. Not to mention, I love the fact we can go have a beer or go to a movie together. She is kickin' ass in school, and she is able to keep her head stable regarding silly things like life and boys.
No, are family isn't perfect. We don't always get along. However, this is my family, and I love them.
Well, most of the bowl season was exciting for me to watch. The Huskies rocked Troy in their first bowl victory in over 20 years. The Dogs were able to escape with another bowl victory, a win over Wisconsin. The Heels weren't so lucky, dropping one to Boston College. I think it was Meatloaf who said it best, "two outta three ain't bad."
With the holiday recap out of the way, it is time I unveil the 2004 jaylowe.com awards. The competition was tough in several categories. I think it was a strong year overall, but I'll let you make the call.
Please save your applause until all awards have been handed out. Now, without further adieu, here are the winners of the 2004 jaylowe.com awards:
Jackass of the year
Steve Flippen's name has shown up here, at least in part, over the past two years. Fortunately I moved away from that jackass, but he'll get some mention below. Regardless, there are several solid candidates for Jackass of the year. Scott, my roommate is certainly up there. He really brought me under his wing in Nashville, introducing me to life including CMT, Belmont basketball and the crazy ladies of General Bate. E-nic is up there, as well as Heat, both from work. Both jackasses. Mookie, who did lead us on a great road trip is up there as well. As close as all of these good people came, as far as jackasses go, no one could outshine Brandon. It has been a good friend, someone to who will laugh with me about sick south park shows and will equally annoy me with basketball timelines. He is a hell of a worker and has become a good friend. This is why Brandon is the 2004 Jackass of the year.
Greatest "Night out on the Town" of the year
Nashville has presented me with numerous social outlets. Music, museums, sporting events, sitting on my couch playing playstation. Every evening I can find something to entertain me. As enjoyable as most nights are in this town, I have to give this award to the night I was the kissing bandit at The Stage. Yes, I am guilty yet again of smooching whatever pretty woman is near me. Don't worry, we aren't talking crazy make out sessions at the bar. I'm better than that. Most of the time. However, I'm an affection guy and all of my lady friends were partying with us at The Stage this spring. We all started the night off at a Nashville Sounds baseball game then ended up at one of the largest country bars in Nashville. Most of you know, I'm not a big country fan, but when a group of women are dragging you somewhere, you follow. I'm not sure the total number of women kissed that night, but I think there was only one random. Can you blame her? I certainly can't. Hey, who wouldn't want a peck from jaylowe?
Crush of the year
Working on a college campus makes this the easiest category to fill. I've certainly had crushes on probably 1 million women in the last year. The lady next to me at the stop light. The woman waiting on me at lunch at Tin Roof. All harmless, all unchartered crushes. However, as I stated, working on a college campus makes this easy. It has to be the women's soccer and tennis teams. Both have very sweet and charming, as well as beautiful, women. They are good people, and they work hard to be successful for Vanderbilt. I'm always floored by a woman with drive. So no one person in particular this year, but I think it is better kept that way. I don't like going crazy over my crushes. I'd rather have them as I stated, unmotivating.
Best set of "Eyes" seen this year
If you are a guy, go to Memphis. Quickly. If you are single or can get a hall pass from your wife, go to a great club called Platinum Plus. The women, incredible. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Go. You must. I must go back.
Road trip of the year
Oxford was killer. A Winnebago, good friends, playstation, The Grove, a college football game ... did I mention the winne? Yes, that trip was outstanding, however it was edged out this year by the summer time trip to Memphis with some of the work fellas. We started the weekend playing some card games in the vehicle on the way. We hit a Memphis Redbirds baseball game, which if you have never been there you should go. Their stadium is tremendous. They had great entertainment, in the Zooperstars. Oh, and they had GREAT barbeque chicken nachos. We partied on Beale Street, dancing with a group of very sweet married women. We ended the night with a cab ride to Platinum. Enough said. A great weekend, great friends and one HECK of a hangover to prove it.
Best moment of the year
As I stated in the last Lowe Down, this was a fairly easy year. Everything remained the same. I did move, but it wasn't to a different state, which I had done the past two years. It was an incredibly hectic fall, but I feel my greatest sense of accomplishment was standing on our football field, after the stands had cleared, following our final home game. Operationally, the season was pretty solid. There are things upon which we can improve, but there was also a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the season completed. I stood on the grass, looking around as security ushered out teams and coaches, the cleaning crew was already working hard, and I knew I had done a hell of a job over the year. It was a great feeling.
Most touching moment of the year
This happens every Sunday. Well, at least every Sunday it is on TV. I'll be damned if the intelligent people at ABC don't have me hooked. Yes, I am a fool for Extreme Home Makeover. The show in itself is a blessing to so many families, and we aren't talking well-to-do families either. Each of these families is well deserving of the masterpieces the crew puts together in only seven days. They take a home, and basically redo the entire thing. There is always a story. Someone has been confined to a wheelchair and hasn't seen his old bedroom in five years. Another family lost their mother and now the father is left caring for eight kids. Each story is so damn touching, and I almost cry every week. Ok, some weeks I do cry, but it is worth it to see these families so happy and relieved. The show is a blessing, and it makes for great tv.
Wrestler of the year
Typically in the world of wrestling I prefer the "heels," the bad guys. They generally are more fun to watch. I like to watch them plan ways to cheat the system and beat the hell out of the good guys. However, this year I pulled for the underdog, the "face." Chris Benoit rose above the competition this year to show his grit and determination. For a man who has been in his career for almost 20 years, climbing to the top is the most memorable moment one can achieve. Benoit is exciting, he is dedicated to his profession and he is my favorite wrestler of 2004.
CD of the year
"Scream and Whisper," is Edwin McCain's sixth major release, and probably his best. After several years under the watchful eye of Atlanta Records, Edwin has been able to break free and again release his music on his terms. The tracks on "Scream and Whisper" speak of love, stories told and celebrating life. I have always been a fan of Edwin's writing. He is a true story teller, and I have loved this album from the moment I listened to it.
Team of the year
Working in athletics, I've had the pleasure of being around some tremendous coaches. Jay Vidovich and Skip Prosser of Wake Forrest, Steve Simmons, Steve Rodecap and Joe Novak of NIU and the coach who has had the largest impact on me here at Vanderbilt, Tim Corbin. Coach has lifted the Vanderbilt baseball program from the ashes to become a true contender in the always brutal SEC. The 2004 season for Vanderbilt Baseball was truly special, watching the Dores win a NCAA regional and make their first appearance to a Super Regional. The team was full of very talented student-athletes, however Corbin is the reason those kids were able to perform at that level. It was a memorable year indeed, and I look forward to the baseball Dores in '05.
Wedding of the year
I had the fortunate pleasure of being involved in two weddings this August. Bob and Caroline Numbers were married the August 14 in my home town of Winston-Salem. It was a thrilling to be home for my mother's birthday, but equally as thrilling to be apart of their beautiful day. As much fun as I had being home and around Bob and Caroline, my very good friend Steve Flippen (a former Jackass of the year winner) had me as his best man on his happy day, August 7. Steve and Katie are tremendous friends, and it was a pleasure to be a small part of their day. They've been a very happy couple for several years now, and I watched their relationship evolve from those early days in Athens to those long distant calls from DeKalb to Knoxville. They are a wonderfully happy couple and the wedding was a great deal of fun. And yeah, I even got to pick their first dance song.
Dumbest moment of the year
But the Flippen wedding also produced this award winner. Minutes before the service began, Flip and I were talking behind the alter. I was really just trying to calm him. Nothing seemed to work. He wasn't nervous, just tight. Ok, who am I kidding. He was nervous. Well, the time came for us to walk in front of the church, in front of all of the family and friends whom gather to celebrate their wonderful day. As the best man, I began walking down the steps of the alter, Flip following behind. I had my big cheesy smile, looked at the stairs below me, and lifted my head up high as I took on the first one. Well that bastard Church stair decided to trip me, almost causing me to bust my ass on the cold marble floor. I swayed from side to side before I was able to catch my balance and finish my brief walk. At least it caused Flip to crack a smile and loosen up. I'm such a help.
Best acquisition of the year
Without question, this award goes to Apple's ipod. The mp3 player is wonderful. Mine is 20 GB and holds about 5,000 songs. I have over 3,000 on there now, and it has been a good friend to me being there for my work outs, my parties and my long car rides. If you don't own one, buy it. If you don't love music, you are a boob!
Best concert of the year
This is an Edwin winner as well, but this one was badass. No, there were no speaker racks, no large drum kits, and certainly no arena tour. This was an Edwin show at 3rd and Lindsley with nothing more than a saxophone, one acoustic and one electric guitar. It was Edwin at his simplest. Very classic. It reminded me of the many great shows I've seen with friends over the years. Some big shows, some small. But any chance I can get to sing damn good songs and reminisce, it is a huge bonus to me.
Video game of the year
There were several new game purchases this, including the new WWE game, NFL and NBA 2K5, but the best purchase was easily Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Granter, I have put the game down for awhile because I can't pass the damn flying missions, but it has been a blast to play. The characters are hilarious, but the music takes top billing. There are tons of great R&B and rap songs from the early 90s, some of my favorite music of all time. The game play is very similar to Vice City, but much more extensive. A good choice for anyone with a PS2.
Best song to sing in a British voice
This category became quite popular back in the Spring Street days, when Big Red and I used to sing basically EVERY song in a British voice just for shits and giggles. One of the early winners could have easily been Avril Lavigne, whose song "Complicated," almost knocked off "Alive" by Pod. Avril had another strong showing this year with the song "Don't tell me." As hard as she tried, Avril is left at the alter for another year. This year's award goes to a rockin' band out of San Francisco, Switchfoot. Their song "Meant to live," was sung by me, British style, many times this year. Typically it was after I had a few pops at the local brew houses, but still it is an award winner.
And finally ...
The jaylowe.com 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award
I had a difficult time deciding this one. Previous winners have all been family, and while Dad is already on pace to nail down 2005's award (he is retiring this year), I decided to go a different route.
For over 10 years, Vertical Horizon has been filling my eardrums with incredible sounds and poetic lyrics. Whether it is a rock song, an acoustic ballad or a song that reminds you of your closest friends, Vertical has their fingers on the pulse of my generation. Although after releasing a solid album in the fall of 2003, the boys of VH were hard to find. Their usual rigorous tour schedule had been seemingly cut in half. "Go," the new album, was receiving very little publicity throughout the music industry and the lone released single, "Forever," quickly fell off the charts. A point had come where RCA was changing their leadership. The new didn't agree with the old, so many of the artists who were given a chance before, like Vertical Horizon, were put on the back burner.
There is a point in time when people have to make decisions in their lives. Vertical still wanted to perform. They wanted to make new music. They wanted to keep their fans happy. Their ties to RCA were limiting everything they tried to do, so a decision was made. VH left RCA records early this year. It was a bold move. In a time of life where every other person you see on the street has a band, VH was ready to be thrown back into the mix. They decided sticking together as a band and making their music was more important than anything RCA could provide at the time. Bold decisions deserve merit, and Vertical Horizon is my award winner of 2004.
Thanks for reading. I'll be sure to update more often. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and are enjoying the New Year!