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Your Week in Pop Culture: Bitstrips - the latest app taking control of your friends

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Here I am bringing you the news in real life and in a Bitstrip. (Source: Tanita Gaither/Bitstrips for Android) Here I am bringing you the news in real life and in a Bitstrip. (Source: Tanita Gaither/Bitstrips for Android)
The Ohio State Marching Band executed a stellar performance on a show dedicated to the late King of Pop. (Source: Buckeye TV/Ohio State University/YouTube) The Ohio State Marching Band executed a stellar performance on a show dedicated to the late King of Pop. (Source: Buckeye TV/Ohio State University/YouTube)

(RNN) – Whenever an app is made for smartphones, it's either a complete success or a complete dud.

Bitstrips, now available on Apple iOS devices and Android operating systems, is the latest success in a smartphone-obsessed world. 

The app, created by Bitstrips, Inc. and Cartoon Network, allows users to create an animated avatar who is the star of your own single-panel comic strips. Users can also feature friends in the comic strip in themes that feature more than 1,000 customizable scenes.

The photos can then be instantly shared on Facebook or any other social media site. The Bitstrips website already has 11 million unique users that have used the app on Facebook and their smartphones.

The latest fad in the social app is approaching a high point with users with its latest update, but as everyone begins using it, you can count on it falling out of favor. When your mom starts using Bitstrips, just delete the app from your phone and run.

Music: If you're not listening to Kelela, let the techno-soul take over

For fans of indie-R&B, singer Kelela will awaken your spirit much in the way Solange Knowles' T.O.N.Y. did for me a few years ago.

Kelela Mizanekristos, a second-generation Ethiopian immigrant who grew up in North Carolina and currently lives in LA, is a former tour mate of Knowles. And she is creating a following as different and eclectic as her simple bass beats and soulful harmonizing over dance/synthetic tracks.

In an interview with music website Pitchfork, Kelela recalled listening to Tracy Chapman's 1988 self-entitled debut album, and it made her rethink the construction of R&B singers who crossed over into pop music.

In her debut mixtape Cut 4 Me, Kelela makes me wish I owned an 808 drum machine and the magical producers like Fade to Black to effortlessly take "stripped down pieces … of techno, grime, R&B, drum & bass, and dubstep's pre-neon days."

Jam of the week: Kelela, Cherry Coffee - This song off Kelela's mixtape, Cut 4 Me, proves that it's the little things - a pretty voice and simplistic, but powerful beats - that can give birth to a underground star.

Movies: ‘Gravity', ‘Captain Phillips' remain atop the box office; ‘The Fifth Estate' bombs

There were two things that were not surprising this weekend at the movies. First, the sci-fi thriller Gravity and Captain Phillips remain in the top two spots for the second week.

Second, the heavily disputed "biopic" The Fifth Estate is considered a bust, debuting at No. 8, only grossing a little over $1.6 million after opening in 1,769 theaters. The film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, did not register with his large fan base, the Cumberbabes, and was heavily campaigned against by its subject, the web activist and Wikileaks creator Julian Assange.

Here's last weekend's Top 5, according to Box Office Mojo (listed next to previous week's ranking and weekend gross):

1. Gravity (1) $30,027,161

2. Captain Phillips (2) $16,413,093

3. Carrie (NR) $16,101,552

4. Escape Plan (NR) $9,885,732

5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (3) $9,672,791

In theaters: Oct. 25

The Counselor – A Texas lawyer gets in too deep when he becomes embedded in international drug trafficking. The film is an adaptation of a novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy, who has had other books turned into screenplays (No Country for Old Men, The Road) and is directed by Ridley Scott. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Rosie Perez.

Bad GrandpaJackass front man Johnny Knoxville takes on a beloved character – 86-year-old Irving Zisman – and makes a feature-length movie about an elderly man and all of his shenanigans. To make it better, his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) comes along for the ride as a precious kid kicking an old man where he shouldn't be kicked. Fraternity brothers will love it; the girls they drag with them will laugh in shame.

Also in theaters: Blue Is the Warmest Color, Capital, Spinning Plates, Bastards.

Meanwhile, there is a new Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues trailer – Many are excited about the sequel to Will Ferrell's epic journey as Ron Burgundy. Dodge is certainly excited about it, as shown in the wonderful ad campaign featuring Ferrell's best character selling the finer points of the 2014 Dodge Durango.

Sports: NBA Finals format goes with David Stern in '14

Longtime NBA commissioner David Stern is set to retire in February 2014, and one of his first major changes as the NBA's top dog will go with him – the NBA Finals series format.

Beginning with the 2014 NBA Finals, while Stern is enjoying his retirement on some beach, the series that decides basketball's champion will return to its 2-2-1-1-1 format for the first time since 1984; the owners also decided that an extra day off will be added during tentative Game 6 and 7. The change was voted on unanimously by NBA owners during owners' meetings on Wednesday.

In 1985, the Finals series changed to a 2-3-2 format by then new commissioner Stern after discussions with the late Boston Celtics president and former head coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach, who complained about the strain of travel faced by east coast teams going to the west coast during a series.

The change was, of course, at the height of the Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers rivalry that met with regularity during the Finals of the 1980s. Worried about the Larry Bird-led team being on the other side of a disadvantage did not sit well with Auerbach, so his complaint was met with no argument from the rookie commissioner.

The format of 2-2-1-1-1 was used from 1957 to 1984.

With travel no longer being an issue since charter flights have replaced commercial flights, the change was an "easy sell" to the owners, Stern said to the media on Wednesday. The format change will also keep the series more competitive and silence many claims of unfair advantages of travel and wear on teams that otherwise would have the upper hand. It also puts the Finals in similar format with the other rounds of the playoffs that follow the format.

Stern's last day as commissioner will be Feb. 1, 30 years after he was officially named the NBA's boss. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will take over on that date.

A little something from YouTube – OSU marching band moonwalks in epic formation of Michael Jackson

The Ohio State Marching Band pulled off one of the best things any marching band has ever done – it moonwalked to a medley of Michael Jackson's best singles.

In a tribute to the late King of Pop and the 25th anniversary of the successful album Bad, the band famous for dotting the script "I" in Ohio with a high stepping sousaphone player performed a must-see show that included Bad, Billie Jean, Man in the Mirror and other Jackson hits.

The performance came during halftime of OSU's Oct. 19 home game against Iowa. The actual release date of Bad was Aug. 31, 1987, but the show was so good, it didn't matter the Buckeye's band was a year too late.

And do you know how talented a band has to be to pull off a succinct moonwalk as one unit? The marching band geek in me is blown away.

Honorable mention

Actor Tom Hardy to star in Elton John biopic – The New York Daily News

Rantankerous: Life isn't a baseball movie, but it should be (Podcast) – Raycom News

Baby Prince George is christened, 7 godparents named – CNN

Cook: ‘Announcing the newer, thinner, lighter iPad Air' – Raycom News/CNN

How to choose a team to cheer for in the World Series – Raycom News

Kelly Clarkson tied the knot with fiancé in weekend wedding – CNN

Angel Haze remixes Macklemore's ‘Same Love,' makes it a true anthem - BuzzFeed

Topanga slams haters on Twitter after marrying younger man; man not Cory Matthews - Huffington Post

(Dis)honorable mention

Parents file bullying complaint after 91-0 score in HS football game – WFAA/CNN

Inside Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Wedding Plans: ‘It's going to be huge!' – E! Online

Meet the man's rights activist who left an Ohio University student too scared to leave her house – BuzzFeed

Rapper CeeLo Green pleads not guilty to drug charges – CNN

Rescued by racism: the blond Maria and the dark Roma – The Daily Beast

Former madame Heidi Fleiss arrested on DUI, pot possession - The New York Daily News

Follow me on Twitter @TanitaG_RNN.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • Live5News.com Poll

  • What are your favorite apps to use on your smartphones?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Foursquare.
    45%
    108 votes
    Sports apps - ESPN's Scorecenter
    7%
    16 votes
    News apps - AP, local news apps
    2%
    4 votes
    Music apps - Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Music
    12%
    28 votes
    Games - Candy Crush, anyone?
    27%
    64 votes
    Creative apps, i.e., Bitstrips
    7%
    16 votes
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