On learning that one is not the next big thing

Mike Pace had a decent, signed journeyman band but, at 40, has realized that he'll never be the rock star he dreamed of becoming. Nonetheless, he's at a creative peak; a powerful change of perspective comes when reality, and age, are acknowledged.

Deep down I care more about my work than anyone else ever will, and that’ll inevitably lead to temporary disappointment when I don’t get the reaction I want, but that’s a good thing. You want to care deeply about what you create, even if it’s hard to square the response or lack thereof, regardless of what stage of your career you’re at. Ultimately that response is only part of the overall experience of making music and it’s one I can’t control. I again remind myself why I do this in the first place: I love the feeling that comes with making music, even if it’s in my basement now after the kids have gone down and not onstage at a Mexican restaurant in Saskatoon on some godforsaken tour across Western Canada.

The band split up just before the social media era; I can't help but suspect that by now it would have had a hit record and made stars of Pace and the rest. And they'd be completely miserable, because being a professional rock star in your 40s is hell.

Instead, solo projects. Read the rest

Frank Sinatra to George Michael on coping with fame: "Swing, man"

After he became a global phenomenon, George Michael considered retirement to get away from the demands of fame, telling the L.A. Times' Calendar magazine that he planned to reduce the strain of his celebrity status. One Frank Sinatra wrote in, exhorting him to continue cultivating his talent... Read the rest

What's it like to be a 'Tumblr Famous' teen?

“That feeling when you hit a million followers, make more money than your mom, push a diet pill scheme, lose your blog, and turn 16.” Not something most of us can relate to, but most of us aren't Tumblr Superstar Teens. Read the rest

Famous YouTube stars are barely scraping by

Gaby Dunn, co-star of the YouTube channel Just Between Us, explains the dismal economics of being a mid-list YouTube star.

I’m 27 years old and have been building an online following for 10 years, beginning with a popular Livejournal I wrote in high school. A couple of years ago, after moving to Los Angeles, I made the transition from freelance writing to creating online video. The channel I have with my best friend Allison Raskin, Just Between Us, has more than half a million subscribers and a hungry fan base. We’re a two-person video creation machine. When we’re not producing and starring in a comedy sketch and advice show, we’re writing the episodes, dealing with business contracts and deals, and running our company Gallison, LLC, which we registered officially about a month ago.

And yet, despite this success, we’re just barely scraping by. Allison and I make money from ads that play before our videos, freelance writing and acting gigs, and brand deals on YouTube and Instagram. But it’s not enough to live, and its influx is unpredictable. Our channel exists in that YouTube no-man’s-land: Brands think we’re too small to sponsor, but fans think we’re too big for donations. I’ve never had more than a couple thousand dollars in my bank account at once. My Instagram account has 340,000 followers, but I’ve never made $340,000 in my life collectively.

The high highs and low lows leave me reeling. One week, I was stopped for photos six times while perusing comic books in downtown L.A.

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The Fickle Fame of Twitter

After Twitter added me to its "suggested user" list, my follow count skyrocketed from a thousand to a million in a few months. But artificial popularity turned a conversation into a stand-up show, I lost my voice, and it took me a long time to find it again.

The Dinosaur Alphabet tells the stories of non-famous dinos

At The Dinosaur Tracking blog, Brian Switek is starting a cool, new series meant to highlight the lesser-known dinosaurs that the public as long ignored. Sure, it's a bit easier to pronounce Tyrannosaurus, but Agujaceratops and Zalmoxes still deserve their 15 minutes of fame.

The alphabetical series kicks off today with the aforementioned Agujaceratops. Found in Texas, Agujaceratops is distinctly different, in several ways, from its cousins that have been found in the northern part of North America. In fact, writes Switek, Agujaceratops is so different, that it's making paleontologists reconsider ancient North American geography.

At the species and genus levels, the southern dinosaurs are different. The big question is, why? Paleontologists know that a shallow, vanished seaway separated dinosaurs on eastern and western subcontinents for millions of years, but on that western subcontinent called Laramidia, there was apparently some other kind of barrier that isolated northern and southern dinosaur populations.

The hypothesis relies on basic evolutionary theory. Isolate populations of an ancestor species in different regions, and through factors such as natural selection and genetic drift, those populations will evolve in different ways. The fact that Agujaceratops, Kosmoceratops and Utahceratops are so different from Chasmosaurus and other northern cousins are a sign that such a barrier was in place. No one has found it yet, though, and a great deal of work remains to be done on whether all these dinosaurs were really contemporaries or reveal a much more complex evolutionary pattern. As these investigations continue, though, Agujaceratops will continue to play an important role as a symbol of isolation and evolution.

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