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And that's what Hearth's Warming Eve is all about, Zombie Brown

It’s a special Ho-Ho-Huh? Edition of Derp Roundup, the feature where we bring you the stories that don’t quite deserve their very own posts, but are too stupid to ignore altogether. So light the candles and gather round the hearth, and start drinking  first thing in the morning if that gets you through this mess. Absinthe is Christmassy, isn’t it?

  • Our Top Derp comes from Sycamore Township, Ohio, where Jasen Dixon put up a creative holiday display: a zombie nativity scene. Dixon operates a haunted house every fall and had plenty of festive — if not flesh-covered — figures available, including a scary blank-eyed Zombie Baby Jesus. Dixon appeared to be quite pleased with the reaction when interviewed by local TV station WXIX:

    The neighbors don’t like it. My father hates it and anything bad that happens he blames it on that … On the average we probably get 30 or 40 cars stop and taking pictures, getting out with their camera. People that follow zombie movies and stuff like that love it.

    Ah, but it seems not everyone in the Cincinnati suburb shares Mr. Dixon’s holiday spirit (whatever that holiday might be). Shortly after the TV news story ran, township officials ordered that the display be taken down because it violates an ordinance restricting displays to 35 percent of his yard area. Dixon believes that, just maybe, the particular content of his display may have made him a target for selective enforcement:

    I’ve lived here for 15 years and I’ve never had a violation of any kind … It’s a holiday decoration. I know if it was a real pretty nativity scene they wouldn’t be saying anything.

    He has to remove the display by Dec. 26, which seems convenient since it can at least be up on Christmas, but it also seems awfully petty of the township, especially considering how zombies love a good New Year’s party.

  • Remember how the Satanic Temple got the OK to put up a holiday display in the Florida Capitol building? It was a masterful bit of First Amendment trolling, but apparently it was also a bit too threatening for some folks, because Tuesday, a Tallahassee woman lost her Festivus cheer over the silly thing, which depicted a wingless angel doll falling from cotton clouds into cardboard flames below. It was all just a little too much for Susan Hemeryck, 54, who at least had the courtesy to inform two Capitol Police officers ahead of time that she was compelled to take action. She told the officers

    that she was “sorry and had to take down the Satanic display,” because it was “not right” before she attempted to tear it about 11:30 a.m.

    Hemeryck then tried to remove the display. Officers stopped her and told her to put it back.

    One of the officers explained to her that removing the display was in violation of the law. In response, Hemeryck said, she “could not take it anymore” and began to rip the display apart.

    She was then escorted away and placed under arrest.

    Everybody’s an art critic. Hemeryck was charged with “criminal mischief” and released on her own recognizance; let’s hope she doesn’t decide to drive to Ohio.

  • A Utah man was hospitalized last week after winning an eggnog-chugging contest at his office Christmas party. Ryan Roche had managed to down a pint of the stuff — non-alcoholic, we should add — in 12 seconds, but later began feeling sick, and by the time he arrived at the ER, he was nearly incapacitated. Roche was eventually diagnosed with “aspiration pneumonia.” He’d somehow managed to glug a large portion of the frothy mixture into his lungs, and almost drowned in eggnog. Keep your family safe from tragedy. Don’t chug nog. And for that matter, if there’s no alcohol in it, why even bother?
  • Found today on the Twitternet:Happy Poe-mas!Relax: It is “irony.” Once you look at the guy’s account, it’s pretty clear this is pure, weapons-grade trolling. But it perfectly captures the flavor of viral rightwing emails and definitely belongs in the Poe’s Law Hall of Fame.
  • Not Christmas Derp, but a beautiful story nonetheless: Managers of an Italian circus have been charged with using false documents after the “pandas” that they charged people to take photos with turned out to be chow puppies.
    PT Barnum approves
    Image: Corriere della Sera

    You’ll be glad to know that the puppies are OK:

    The dogs were found to be in good health, but their eyes were watering probably because of the “continuous flash to which they were exposed,” the spokeswoman said. It was decided to leave the dogs with their owners, but on condition that they were no longer used for impersonation.

    Somewhere, the ghost of PT Barnum just sighed and said, “That’s not fraud. That’s showmanship.”

  • And finally, from Scotland, another tale of an animal that wasn’t what it seemed, and wasn’t actually an animal, for that matter. A kind soul in Aberdeen called the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to report that they’d seen what they were pretty sure was an injured parrot in the middle of the road. When animal rescue officers arrived on the scene, they discovered it was actually a rather ugly Christmas hat. The Scottish SPCA’s Karen Hogg explains:

    “It’s fair to say the lady who called was mortified when I called her back.”

    She said: “When she was on her way home from the shops, she thought she saw an injured bird on the road.

    “The hat has green holly which she assumed was the body and a red bobble sticking out which she thought was the parrot’s head.

    “As the lady was driving at the time she wasn’t able to stop and get a good look so called to alert us.

    “When I got there it was a nice surprise to find there wasn’t an animal in danger and I must admit it gave me a bit of Christmas cheer.”

    Either way, it is bereft of life.

    Ms. Hogg advises that the hat is “now being safely looked after at our centre in Drumoak. If anyone recognises the hat they are welcome to come and collect it.” She also urged people not to be discouraged from calling in reports of possible injured animals, because the SPCA would rather rescue the occasional hat than miss a chance to help an animal in need.

    The hat is reportedly uninjured, but may be pining for the fjords.

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