Parental Guide Summary of Pete’s Dragon (2016, Rated PG)

Parental Guide Summary of Pete's Dragon (2016, Rated PG-13)

The new Pete’s Dragon movie takes place in circa-1983, just like this year’s X-Men Apocalypse, as well as Netflix’s summer hit show, Stranger Things. The funny part is, I have no idea why the new Pete’s Dragon movie takes place in the Eighties; it has nothing to do with the plot in any way.

Never at any point do they acknowledge the year. This is simply information you deduce from the clothing, hairstyles, cars, and lack of cell phones. When the movie begins, “1983” doesn’t flash up on the screen.

Similarly, I’m led to believe the movie takes place in either Washington state or Oregon, based on the redwood trees. But they never come out and say that either.

Oh yeah, and, by the way: Take your kids to see this movie!

It is totally worth it. It is the perfect family movie to see in the theater this year. Plenty of heart and adventure, yet not cheesy in any way.

Here’s a breakdown of the new Pete’s Dragon movie, from a “family friendly” perspective:


None; not even any form of “OMG”. There is a mention of literal hell, as the dragon’s eyes are compared to “the color of hell fire.” But I have a feeling no one is going to find that be be offensive.


Not even a kiss.


A crew of men use tranquilizer rifles to hunt down the dragon.


Not even the sight of an empty beer bottle.

Dark Themes:

Just like virtually every Disney movie ever made, the boy becomes an orphan in the opening scene, in the event of a car accident. However, the trauma of this is downplayed greatly: The car is show flipping upside down but the bodies of the parents are not seen.

I strongly recommend this movie. My son just started Kindergarten this week; he’s about 5 and a half years-old. Pete’s Dragon was perfectly relevant and appropriate.

Go right now. Take the kids. See Pete’s Dragon.

Also, here’s the video version of this blog post:


The “You Can’t Insult Me Challenge” on My YouTube Channel (My Theory That It’s Impossible to Offend Me with Words because I Don’t Give People Power over My Emotions)

I am testing out a theory on emotional intelligence; and thanks to a video I just released on my YouTube channel this week, I have now made it possible for the free world to attempt to insult me, offend me, hurt my feelings, or negatively affect my emotions by being rude to me; via comments on the YouTube video.

My theory is that it’s officially impossible for the simple reason that I do not allow anyone to hurt my feelings. I do not give anyone permission or power over my emotions, since I am aware that it’s my decision to make, not theirs.

I quickly agree that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not true for everyone. After all, we live in an “outrage culture” in which people so easily get publicly offended; with a little help from social media.

However, I believe that I am on the complete opposite of the “easily offended” spectrum. Over the past 5 years of my life especially, I have taught myself the important life lesson that formally, I was allowing myself to be a victim, instead of proactively choosing to be a victor.

It’s not that I think I’m perfect. The complete opposite is true: I couldn’t be any more aware of my own shortcomings and faults. In fact, I daily invite the free world to give me constructive criticism so I can make my list of imperfections even longer; whether it’s in the virtual world or the real world.

If I can learn a way to be a better human being, I want to know. I love constructive criticism! I thrive on it.

The only way I can prove that it is impossible to insult me, offend me, hurt my feelings, or negatively affect my emotions by being “rude” to me is to make myself a human social experiment, in real time.

If I am insulted, I will admit that my theory was bogus and end the challenge.

However, I will be quite surprised anyone is able to insult me and it actually hurt my feelings. For anyone who does take me up on my offer, chances are, they will mainly be people online who I don’t even know. Just faceless, nameless Internet trolls and hecklers. As a blogger of eleven years, I’m used to that.

I think their “insults” would ultimately come across as obligatory, juvenile, and unoriginal; and that even if they did a good job, they would simply incriminate themselves as people who are insecure about themselves.

Granted, a person who would consider threatening me would not be participating in the challenge I am presenting. If it takes a threat to insult me, then my theory is proven true; as this is about me being immune to emotional attacks, not physical ones.

It’s fundamentally important to me in my everyday life that I do not allow myself to become easily provoked or quick to anger; from another driver pulling out in front of me only to drive under the speed limit, to a coworker who appears to deliberately try to embarrass me in front of others on a daily basis.

So I hereby invite the world to imply I am not good enough, not smart enough, not right enough, not funny enough, not interesting enough, not thin enough, not heavy enough, not strong enough, not intelligent enough, not good-looking enough, not well-balanced enough, or not normal enough.

I invite the universe to judge me and find me unworthy of their own standard. I predict I won’t be offended. I am fundamentally opposed to allowing other people to offend me. I am not a victim. I am a victor.

The “You Can’t Insult Me Challenge” on My YouTube Channel (My Theory That It’s Impossible to Offend Me with Words because I Don’t Give People Power over My Emotions)

Victors versus Victims

Victor: compliments others

Victim: criticizes others

Victor: embraces change

Victim: fears change

Victor: forgives others

Victim: holds grudges

Victor: always learning

Victim: thinks they know everything

Victor: accepts responsibility for their failures

Victim: blames others for their failures

Victor: has a sense of gratitude

Victim: has a sense of entitlement

Victor: sets goals and develops plans

Victim: never sets goals

Dear Jack: You Started Kindergarten This Week, Exactly 30 Years after I Did

5 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: You Started Kindergarten This Week, Exactly 30 Years after I Did

Dear Jack,

Exactly three decades ago in August 1986, I began Kindergarten back at Forest Avenue Elementary in Fort Payne, Alabama. I remember how much I cried, begging your Nana (my Mommy) not to leave me there.

She said, “Oh look, it’s Heath Owen. He’s the son of lead singer of Alabama (the Country music group).”

Somehow that distraction helped ease the chaos in my mind. After all, “Roll On Eighteen Wheeler” was, by default, by favorite song around that time.

I will quickly acknowledge that your first day and first week of Kindergarten have been nothing like that. Instead, you have been literally and figuratively hopping to go to school.

You love it!

Granted, you have been in daycare, and then preschool, since you were 7 months old; which was 5 years ago.

So for the past 5 years of your life, it has been completely normal to spend most weekdays with a teacher and other students.

Simply put, you were more than ready to start Kindergarten this week. I know you’re going to have a very exciting year!

It just so happened that your first day of Kindergarten was also your sister Holly’s first day at daycare.

She’s only half the age you were when you started going to preschool. There’s no doubt it’s a heavy psychological thing for a parent to drop off their baby all day, for the first time. It’s just not easy.

But I know in the end, I will see the positive benefits that come from growing up in day care and preschool.

I just look at you. You are so bright, so creative, so eager to learn, so energetic, and yet so behaved for your teachers.

So as tough as it is to see Holly go to daycare this week, I know that you turned out just fine… and are going to make the best Kindergartner I know!



Dear Jack: You Started Kindergarten This Week, Exactly 30 Years after I Did

Dear Holly: Dolly the Doppelganger and Belle of the Ball Instagram Posts

15 weeks.

Dolly and Holly. ‪#‎doppelganger‬

Dear Holly,

This past weekend our family didn’t do much, which is very unusual for us. Therefore, the main thing I did was take care of you.

You better believe, though, that it was crucial to keep my phone nearby so I could take some inevitably good pictures of you to share with the world on Instagram.

The first magnificent shot was when Dolly (the doll your Grandma sent you from California, in which your brother Jack adopted as he practiced for you) ended up near your play mat.

It just so happened you were wearing pink and white, just like Dolly. So I placed the doll right next to you, and the magical shot was born.

The rest of the world agreed that Dolly really is your doppelganger!

Then later that afternoon, you spit up on your outfit you were wearing, so Mommy helped you with a wardrobe change.

Dear Holly: Dolly the Doppelganger and Belle of the Ball Instagram Posts

Belle of the ball.

She put you in the dress that Uncle Andrew and Aunt Dana sent you. My immediate thought when I saw you in front of me was, “belle of the ball.”

It instantly became one of my favorite pictures of you, ever. How could it not?

Look at your big smile. Look at the way you appear to be playing in your dress.

Seriously, just look at how beautiful and happy you are!

I know it’s only natural to see my own baby daughter as the prettiest little girl I’ve ever seen, but truly, you are one beautiful baby.

And it only makes sense that you would be, when I look at Mommy.

So while last weekend was seemingly uneventful overall, I was proud to capture two wonderful pictures of you:

One hilarious picture and one adorable picture.

And I see how that’s what kind of little girl you are proving to be already: hilarious, yet beautiful.



Dear Holly: Dolly the Doppelganger and Belle of the Ball Instagram Posts

Vegan Confession: I Have Nightmares I Eat Meat

Vegan Confession: I Have Nightmares that I Eat Meat

I realize that for 97% of the population, a dream about eating meat would not be deemed as a nightmare. But for me, it is every time. I have these kinds of dreams about once every couple of months, at least.

It’s funny how that’s how my brain subconsciously creates a “bad” dream. But imagine if you were me:

No pork or shellfish (kosher) since November 2008, no meat at all since December 2011, no animal products at all (including eggs, cheese, milk, or any dairy) since April 2013.

Imagine that’s your life. Then consider what it was like last night for me to dream this:

I was on my way to see a movie with my son. But in a hurry and in need of a quick meal, I stopped by McDonald’s and bought a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Sure, it tasted great. But immediately, I was racked with guilt, knowing that eating this cheeseburger not only disqualified me from being a vegan and a vegetarian after all these years, but also from being kosher; since a kosher-abiding person cannot consume dairy product along the meat in the same meal.

Then, in the dream, I began trying to figure out how I would explain this to my wife. Before she or I even became vegetarians, she was never okay with me going to McDonald’s.

As expected, it wasn’t too long before the undigested meat began racing through my digestive track. Oh yes- you guessed it- a race to the restroom…

And I’m sure that’s exactly what would happen if I did suddenly did eat meat and cheese.

The most interesting part of this nightmare was that I began questioning whether it may just be a dream. So I began saying out loud, “Wake up… this probably isn’t real!”

I guess it worked. I woke up. But I’ve been having flashbacks all day long.

So if you eat meat, be glad you don’t have to deal with these kinds of nightmares.

Below is the video version of this blog post, where I go into a mysterious tunnel…

Vegan Confession: I Went Gluten-Free for a Month and This Happened…

I always assumed that in order to take it to the next level, up from already being a caffeine-free vegan, I would need to add “gluten-free” to my list of self-imposed rigid restrictions over my life…

Gluten-Free Vegan Road Trip to Atlanta, Georgia in a 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited

Furthermore, I assumed that by completely nixing gluten (wheat) from my diet, I would discover even more health benefits; like how when I became a vegan: my eczema, constant sinus pressure, reoccurring sinusitis, and pet allergies all went away in just a matter of days.

Plus, I had hoped (also like when I became a vegan), I would accidentally lose some weight (since I recently admitted to gaining 7 pounds over the course of the past year when I ate vegan chocolate bars and tater tots with my pregnant wife).

Well, after a month of being gluten-free, I can officially confirm that none of those things came true for me.

I have a feeling you were expecting me to say that going gluten-free totally changed my life, because that definitely seems to be the trendy thing to say these days.

And for the people who say that, I’m confident it’s true for them. I am happy for them that they found what works for them. I give them all my moral support.

But personally speaking, based on my experiment, the gluten-free experience didn’t impress me.

For a whole month, I was fully committed. I think back to last month in Atlanta, while our family was on our first road trip since having the baby.

Time after time, I turned down all kinds of magnificent vegan gluten-containing foods. At the Ponce De Leon Whole Foods where we ate several times, they had a tempting vegan pizza bar as well as plenty of other fun vegan yet gluten-filled delights. And I said no, for the sake of my gluten-free experiment. I sacrificed during an inconvenient time!

But in the end, I saw no benefits.

Granted, I lost 2 of the 7 pounds I had gained for the “vegan chocolate bar and tater tot” incident. However, that easily could have been for the fact I don’t eat vegan chocolate bars or tater tots any more.

Gluten-Free Vegan Road Trip to Atlanta, Georgia in a 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited

I am willing to acknowledge though, that gluten-free is a way of life for many people. However, I am not one of those people.

My body processes gluten just fine; no issues at all. But the trade-off is, I can’t process eggs or dairy without major instant health issues.

As for my future with gluten, the experience has taught me this: I prefer corn tortillas over wheat.

So as my wife makes Mexican meals, I will continue to only eat corn tortillas; not wheat. And I truly enjoy spelt and quinoa in her Italian meals, which we have been eating more of here lately.

In the end, I won’t eat as much wheat as before. Going gluten-free opened my eyes to other options. Yet still, gluten is my friend.

What If Political Bumper Stickers Were Actually Effective in Instantly Converting Those Who See Them?

What If Political Bumper Stickers were Actually Effective in Converting Those Who See Them?

I think the concept of opinionated bumper stickers is hilarious.

Granted, I’m not talking about the ones that are supposed to be hilarious like, “I may be driving slow, but at least I’m in front of you.” That’s intended to be funny, and it is.

Instead, I’m referring to the ones that are meant to apparently convert people’s beliefs and ideology.

The best example of this ridiculous notion is when I see political bumper stickers; which as a commuter in Nashville, is a constant occurrence.

Just imagine: A politically neutral person is at the red light, behind an old Ford pick-up truck with a “Trump for President 2016: Make America Great Again” bumper sticker.

In that moment, a revelation comes over him, as he says to himself, “Yeah, that’s what we need… I can’t believe I never thought about it before. We need Trump to run this country!”

Five minutes later, after having converted from “politically neutral” to “Trump supporter”, this same man is now behind a Nissan Versa. He sees the bumper sticker: Hillary Clinton 2016: I’m With Her.

It’s now as if the man’s whole world has just been rocked. How could he have ever thought Trump was a good idea? Clearly, Hillary Clinton is the way to go.

What a sigh of relief. And yet what an embarrassment that he was ever swayed by that Trump bumper sticker. Fortunately, the Hillary Clinton bumper sticker has now overridden the influence of the one before it.

You can imagine how this story goes on. At each new red light on the commuter’s drive home, he is exposed to a different car with a different political bumper sticker; alternating between Trump and Clinton.

By the time the man finally arrives home, he ultimately choses the candidate he most recently saw the bumper sticker for; whoever that happened to randomly be.

All is well now. He’s made up his mind…

Until the commute back to work in the morning.