Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Steve Martin offers some friendly Oscars hosting advice to Eddie Murphy

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Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy star in the 1999 movie Bowfinger.

Eddie Murphy is hosting the Oscars next year. We talked recently about skepticism over Murphy being chosen to host. Apparently Murphy's good pal Steve Martin wants to make sure Murphy delivers on the big night, so he wrote this essay for Funny Or Die, "Some Oscar Hosting Advice to Eddie Murphy."

My favorite bits:

"The losers can feel very sad, so when you’re backstage with them, pat their backs, then shake your head sadly. It’s a blast!"

"If you feel tired midway through, give Neil Patrick Harris a Red Bull and throw some sheet music at him."

"Remember to relax and have a good time while 12,000 livebloggers rip you to shreds."

He also offers a nice commentary on celebrity in closing:

"Eddie, since you and I are old friends, and I sincerely thought you deserved an Oscar nomination for BOWFINGER, the movie we did together that stands alone in comedy history, from which we got no credit or acknowledgement except large paychecks and drivers and any type of food we wanted delivered to us every day in our really nice trailers, I wish you all the best on your Oscar hosting gig."

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The best Charlie Sheen Comedy Central roast jokes not about Charlie Sheen

Last night, Comedy Central aired the roast taped last week in Los Angeles for Charlie Sheen. They poked fun at Sheen for a couple hours, though "poked" may be too light a term for some of the shots. They ranged from the obvious (Sheen's manic catchphrases, drug use, sex) to some of the more personal (his children and his ex-wife).

One of the things I find the most fascinating about roasts, though, is all the jokes not about the one being roasted but about the roasters. There's a lot of time to fill, and there are only so many good jokes to tell about one man, so these roasts often fill time taking shots at everyone else on the dais. They took some of the most brutal shots, including jokes about Patrice O'Neal's diabetes and jokes about what nobodies outside of doing roasts many of the others were. Here are some of the highlights.

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Jonathan Coulton's 'Artificial Heart' tiered album release: A model for others?

Musician Jonathan Coulton has a new album out called "Artificial Heart." If you don't know Coulton's work, he's best known for doing music with a certain geek flair, building a rabid fanbase by releasing a song a week for a year via his Thing A Week podcast. (He's also well known for writing the Portal video game song "Still Alive.")

OK, so sure, Coulton's new album is great and you should all go listen to it, but what I'm most fascinated by is his "Artificial Heart" tiered release plan. What to do when you have a passionate fanbase that wants to support you?

He's offering four different purchase plans. For 10 bucks, you get a digital download, whose accompanying online text largely puts you down if you make that choice. For $15, you get the digital copy plus a signed CD once the physical albums are done next month. Kicking it up another notch, for $40, you get the digital copy, a signed CD, a poster and a t-shirt.

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New documentary 'Shut Up, Little Man!' looks at going viral before the Internet

The new documentary "Shut Up, Little Man! An Audio Misadventure" opens Friday in Los Angeles and New York after previously opening in the heart of the film's story, San Francisco. It tells the story of two roommates who decided to record the darkly funny arguments of their alcoholic neighbors, Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman. I had the chance to speak with those two neighbors who made the recordings, who went by the monickers "Eddie Lee Sausage" and "Mitchell D."


A young Mitch D and Eddie Lee Sausage.

Eddie and Mitch moved from the Midwest into a bright pink San Francisco apartment in 1987. Their neighbors would get drunk and fight until the wee hours of the morning, and Peter shouting "Shut up, little man" became the iconic cry of those arguments. Eddie and Mitch began recording Peter and Ray and ultimately started distributing copies to their friends, which started a viral phenomenon in the pre-Internet, pre-social media, pre-YouTube era.

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Motown legend Stevie Wonder drops in at Echo Park club tribute night

What began as a tribute night to Stevie Wonder at an Echo Park club took a turn for the unbelievable when Motown icon Stevie Wonder himself showed up to hang out, sing a few bars and talk politics. (Yes, politics.)

At the Echoplex, DJ Spinna was hosting his yearly "Wonder-full" club night, where Wonder fans gather to dance to the musician's arsenal of hits and B-sides, and buy T-shirts with screen prints of the legend's face on them.

It may have been his signature sunglasses or long braids decorated with small seashells, but Wonder's arrival was electric, unparalleled even by the Echoplex’s history of big-name talents like Beck and Nine Inch Nails.

The 22-time Grammy winner sat at a small table with friends and family, watching the party from a roped-off corner near the stage. This VIP area was modest, much like Wonder’s entourage and demeanor.

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