Russian Version of 'The Hobbit' Lets You Enjoy Middle Earth on a Budget

Not the cast of the Russian version of the Hobbit/Still © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Not the cast of the Russian version of the Hobbit/Still © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Want to see "The Hobbit" in 3-D, but don't have the cash? There's always the cheap-o Russian version, which probably cost less to make than you'd spend on a date at the movies. As if that wasn't entertaining enough, some puckish internet rogue has created his own English subtitle track. That's enough low-budget entertainment to tide you over until you rack up enough Christmas card money from your family to afford a ticket to the real thing.

This time of year everyone's got Charlie Brown on the brain (everyone except those schoolkids in Arkansas I posted about last week, that is), which seems pretty wholesome until you see the legendary holiday special mashed up with music by the punk band Bad Brains. Suddenly I have an overwhelming urge to dance and smash things while contemplating the true meaning of Christmas.

The documentary "Breaking the Taboo" is bringing out the big guns against the so-called war on drugs. Narrated by Morgan Freeman and featuring interviews with many global leaders (including former U.S. presidents), the film explores alternatives to the current mess, such as decriminalization -- a strategy that has had encouraging results in Portugal. While many Hollywood stars have publicly supported the film, at least one has been scared off by the controversy. Kate Winslet's message of support was withdrawn from the film's website once the actress realized it might appear to some that she endorsed drug legalization. One has to wonder what she thought she was signing up for in the first place.

Scott Lynch, the author of the pirate fantasy novel Red Seas Under Red Skies, turned heads this week when he personally addressed a complaint from a reader who derided the book's heroine Zamira Drakasha -- a female pirate captain and mother of two -- as an "unrealistic stereotype of political correctness." Lynch was passionate and cutting in his response, standing up for a character whom he proudly describes as "a wish-fulfillment fantasy from hell." He may have lost one reader forever, but something tells me he just gained many more.