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argentina vs portugalOn Thursday, the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil. While many eyes will be on the home team, which is the nominal favorite to capture its record-extending sixth World Cup title, thirty-one other teams will be vying to bring the glory of the beautiful game’s most hallowed prize to their homelands. Many of these sides have legendary players in various stages of their primes. Some seem simply to be along for the experience of playing on a senior international level as a sort of deposit for the future (See: Green, Julian). For all the acclaim of Brazil’s joga bonito, Italy’s azzurri and Die Mannschaft of Germany, two individual players are carrying the weight of their countries perhaps more heavily than anyone else, with the outcome of the tournament potentially dictating their places among the game’s all-time greatest.

I am, of course, talking about Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

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PedrosaCOTA1It’s been four months, I know, but we should go back over some groundwork together. As a reader of this experiment, good for you: You know your limits. You embrace hypothetical supercontests. You have time to read the legalese between EA Sports and the NCAA. You snagged Yeezus the hour after the hour it leaked to ensure you got a decent rip. You know Messi’s first name. You see baseball as a New York-everything else binary. You follow the important Tumblrs. You care about The Roots on Fallon. You get it.

There are, of course, things you don’t know or get. You don’t know about Rodan live in their prime, say, or life writing poetry under Pol Pot. You don’t get motorsports. Again: Good for you, you know your limits. A delusional Dale Earnhardt Jr. commercial? Sordid tales of French all-nighters three months ago? If you click on the Categories sidebar to the right long enough, any Chipotle pitstop can eventually seem effortless.

You know it’s easy to visualize experiencing “The Everyday World of Bodies” in person with the help of a VHS rip to YouTube. You know it’s easy to compartmentalize the struggle of a ruthless dictatorship when you parse out the prison lit. You get guiding a 160kg piece of machinery at 200+mph when you’re doing it from the comfort of your wireless Xbox controller. You’re also smart enough to know these are approximations. You don’t really know Rodan. You don’t know Pol Pot.

And you don’t get having to guide a 160kg piece of machinery at 200+mph year after year, on the best piece of engineering available, with the highest and darkest forces of sports and politics backing you, for millions of dollars, and losing. Dani Pedrosa does. And it’s about to happen again.

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Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

After having gone through the PBR&B rabbit hole, and after many rotations of the mixtapes House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence, we have come to a point at which we know what to expect from the Canadian producer and singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd. His feelings seep through every word and coo, often reverberated heavily with tinges of extreme sadness. “Wicked Games,” in particular, became a YouTube sensation, hitting over 25,000,000 views and becoming the quintessential Weeknd song, complete with an eerie, hypnotic beat, heavily altered drum patterns and vibrato vocals full of fear, detachment and a longing for companionship. Since 2010, when Tesfaye began releasing songs to the Internet under his current pseudonym, he has become buddy-buddy with Drake and gotten signed to Universal Republic Records and, finally, released his first studio album. Read More