Legends of the Hidden Temple: An Actual Conversation

As old(er) Millennials, Cory and I are, like so many, children of Nickelodeon. Not today’s Nickelodeon, full of flashy shows and polished promos. No, I mean the Nickelodeon of yore – gritty, weird, and completely unafraid.

Some time soon, I may do a more in-depth look at Legends of the Hidden Temple. But for now…. there’s this:

A Wedding at Gravestone Manor

Full Disclosure: We did not actually get married at Gravestone Manor. But we did have this incredible photo shoot at what is the most important place in our relationship.

Cory and I met working at Gravestone Manor – our freshman year in college. We started dating at the manor two years later. (The ladder photos below are a callback to our first real conversations during set construction…) Gravestone has been the catalyst in our creative careers, both individually and as a team. That’s why this shoot was so important to us that we lugged our wedding gear across the country to do it.

Thanks to Joe Pecora Photography for the incredible photos, Rick Markham for allowing us some time on set, and my mom for being our handlers and Joe’s assistant, despite the fact she was scared to death to be in the manor, under show lighting and during an actual thunderstorm.

Our Pop Culture Wedding

Life has been crazy recently for… a lot of reasons. One of the bigger (and much, much better) events was our wedding.

“Oh, great. That’s totally why we subscribed to your blog, Sarah. So we could read #humblebragging about your wedding. Swell.”

Hear me out. As a pop culture enthusiast, it was really important to me to figure out subtle, yet fun ways to incorporate certain pop culture elements into our day. Not just to do it, but because there was a reason behind it.

The Invitation:

Of all of the things, this invitation might be what I’m most proud of. After scouring the likes of online stationary sites, I decided we should go to a physical store. I chose, for whatever reason (I didn’t spend hours looking at reviews or pouring over  wedding magazines. I just went with what I found.) Anyway, this process lead me to Seaside Papery at Seaport Village, here in San Diego.

Quick aside — I scheduled the original appointment, but accidentally made it at an alternate location. We ended up canceling due to our Austin trip. It wasn’t until then that I realized the location error, and made a new appointment at the correct location for later. Thank god. Because….

We went. A few times. Dug through binders and binders of samples. And I didn’t like any of them. They were too flowery, too structured, or just too much. It was also tough because the few we did like had minimum ordering requirements of 50 or more. We just needed 30.

After Katie, the wonderful stationary specialist, showed us the last binder, I was defeated. Cory looked at me, then looked at Katie and said, “You know, we were kind of thinking about something like this…” and he described to her what we had talked about a few nights before. It was a completely original design. Katie listened, slowly nodded, then started sketching. As she sketched, she made a few suggestions, then a few more, her voice getting louder and more excited by the word.

“Exactly!” Cory said. “Is there anything like that?”
“I’ll do it,” Katie said with a shrug that said, “of course.”
And she did:

The TV Invitation

This didn’t mean our whole wedding was necessarily themed after TV, as much fun as that would have been. It was a small event, so ardently sticking to a theme didn’t seem worth it. Instead of consciously “theme-ing,” we simply found things that spoke to us.

The Little Things:

Star Wars Han & Leia Champagne Glasses:

Champagne Glasses
Saw these on Pinterest. Immediately knew they were perfect.  (Etsy)

Meaningful Disney Pins instead of boutonnieres:

Cory:Grape Soda Mark:FrozoneScreen shot 2015-11-19 at 1.28.42 PM
Because I really don’t like flower boutonnieres. And while this was NOT supposed to lead to Disney Pin collecting… it kinda did…. Good job, Disney.

A Wall-E and Eve cake topper:

Cake Topper

I couldn’t stand the thought of a typical Bride & Groom thing. Hearts/flowers, too gushy. Pinterest (of course) lead me to adorable toppers using Wall-E and Eve toys, dressed up in little top hats and veils. Over the next few months, I ordered countless toys online, trying to find the right sizes, but none of them seemed to be in proportion to each other. I was getting frustrated, until I fell upon these gorgeous acrylic cut toppers.  (also Etsy)

The Music:

Boarding music consisting of the themes from The Love Boat and Gilligan’s Island. I was absolutely insistent on this one. It helped that Bose has a Bluetooth speaker that matched our wedding colors.

The themes from The Office and Friends in our playlist. Because they’re our favorites. Our playlist also had songs from Sweeney Todd, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Into the Woods, and Jurassic Park.

It was great.

Oh and then instead of a honeymoon, we took our wedding party, friends, and family to Disneyland.

It’s also worth noting that Cory & I didn’t do anything because we were “supposed to” or because it was “tradition.” Everything we did was because it’s what we wanted. Married on a boat. A wedding party that consisted of a Best Man, a Man of Honor, and a Best Person Ever. No dances. No cake-smushing. I didn’t have a shower. We didn’t register.

We just had an incredible wedding, surrounded by our favorite people, in a beautiful place. And then went to Disneyland.

Pop culture doesn’t get more personal than that.

The Greatest Opportunity: ATX TV Fest’s Pitch Competition

ATX TV Fest has an annual pitch competition, where, within the confines of a 90-second video, you must pitch your idea for the next great (scripted) TV show. I entered the competition in 2013, and gleefully made it to the 25 Semi-Finalists list. Unfortunately, I did not make it any further. We entered again last year, but we made the video literally the night it was due. We had been in San Diego for maybe 4 days. Needless to say, we did not make it any further.

This year, Cory & I developed a new concept and filmed the video in our tiny apartment. It was a solid pitch and we knew it. But it was still pretty cool when we officially made the 25 Semi-Finalists list. There was a new component this time: semi-finalists were asked to submit a 10-page writing sample, proving that you can work within a narrative and in the genre that you were pitching. No sweat. Cory & I poured over the written content we had, pulled our best 10 pages from an original pilot script, spent hours and hours and hours and hours editing them to hilarious perfection and submitted. No sweat.

We were proud of our 10 pages, and of our pitch video, but without knowing your competition, there’s not much you can do but hope for the best. And the best came. We were on the list of the 10 Finalists. We were going to Austin to pitch our show idea in front of an audience and a panel of industry insiders.

The Pitch Competition was Friday morning. We got into Austin Thursday afternoon, registered, and spent the rest of the day in our hotel room, rehearsing. We had some posters (thanks to our friends for providing and creating the images on VERY short notice), which we had packaged at FedEx to fly out with us. Rehearsals went well. We were confident.

When I told people about this competition, especially people here in San Diego, who haven’t known me that long, they all asked, “Oh my god, aren’t you nervous? In front of an audience?” To which, I’m sure my friends back in NEPA would laugh and laugh. I am not afraid of an audience. And I wasn’t afraid of the judges. I was nervous, but the good nervous. More than anything, I was proud. Proud that I made it this far. Proud that this was really a joint effort between me and Cory. Proud that I was so confident.

You have to understand: what I love, there aren’t always competitions for. It’s not like singing or dancing or showing off some kind of talent, or even just writing. This was a competition where I got to stand up, microphone in hand, and talk for three minutes about what I love most. Hopefully, not for the last time.


The competition went by super fast. We went fourth in line, and nailed it, just as we rehearsed. We watched the rest of the pitches from the back of the room. Some were good, some were surprising, one was so great, I would have bought it right then. The winner was announced, and it was a pitch that went before us, so we didn’t see it. We heard it was good. And we’re very happy for the winner.

Afterward, we got to speak with the judges and got some valuable insight into what worked and what didn’t.

Even though we technically “lost,” I never felt an ounce of disappointment. Making it that far was the goal. The rest of the weekend, those judges actually would stop and talk to us — not just about the pitch, but small talk and general conversation. They recognized us. It was a good feeling.

Now, we get to take everything we learned, all the advice, all the notes, and combine it with that confidence knowing we CAN DO IT. We can make a TV show. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. But it’s coming, friends. Mark my words.