Valentine's Day is very important to me, and not just because of the love I have for my wife. It also takes me back to the origins of HuffPost Weird News. It was on Feb. 13, 2009 that Buck Wolf and I laid the groundwork for what would become the world's greatest weird news team.
February 13 doesn't get as much attention as Lincoln's Birthday or Valentine's Day, but it's a weirdly significant day for HuffPost Weird News.
On that day five years ago, two underemployed, short balding guys had a dream.
No, not that kind of dream, but a weird dream nonetheless.
Like many people, we had both been screwed by the Great Recession and were trying to find gainful employment.
Buck was a seasoned, battered and deep-fried journalist who had worked both the crime and entertainment beats, but his first love was weird news.
I had spent most of my career writing weird news stories for Wireless Flash News Service, a news agency that supplied strange stories and wacky guests for media outlets around the world.
We expressed our worries and also our dreams:
"Wouldn't it be great if we could do a website dedicated just to weird news?"
"It seems like weird news is what people want to read on the Internet anyway."
"Seriously, we could have a full-time UFO reporter and do stories about dumb criminals and people who live in Florida."
Buck and I agreed the weird news website was a good idea. We continued to discuss how to make it a reality in further conversations.
At times, both our wives thought the two of us had some weird bromance thing going on (not that there's anything wrong with that).
During that period, I went into PR in San Diego where I represented dog kennels, brain scanners and jazz clubs. My affinity toward sensationalistic stories both helped and hindered me. It seemed that some clients, like the guy who ran the stem cell bank, didn't like being positioned as weird even when it got them national attention.
Buck started networking and ended up getting hired at AOL and was able to convince the powers-that-be to start a weird news section.
Even more amazing: He wanted me to be one of the freelance writers.
That was in December, 2009.
Like Charles Foster Kane in "Citizen Kane," Buck managed to hire the best and brightest writers in weird news (always aware that when it comes to weird news, terms like "best and brightest" shouldn't be taken literally).
Besides myself, the looney news luminaries included Lee Speigel, still the only UFO beat writer for any major publication; esteemed crime writer David Lohr; and, later Mike McLaughlin and Steve Hoffer.
GALLERY: SOME OF HUFFPOST WEIRD NEWS' WEIRDEST PHOTOS (Story continues below)
AOL Weird News did pretty well. Sometimes, the section accounted for 33 percent of daily traffic, like when I interviewed former Baywatch babe Donna D'Errico complaining about being interrogated by the TSA.
During the 2010 World Cup, Buck and freelance writer Ed Mazza coined the term "Psychic Octopus," for Paul, the German octopus who correctly predicted Germany's wins in the tournament.
AOL Weird News officially joined Huffington Post in May, 2011, and the first story from the section to make the HP front page was a piece about how carnival barkers felt when President Obama referred to the controversy about his birth certificate as "a sideshow."
The story resulted in my first journalism award: "Dumbass of the Day" by 247 Comedy.com.
Since then, HP Weird News has become one of the most read, most commented sections of HuffPost proper.
The secret to the section's success is that Buck has a knack for finding writers who can report weird news using all the journalistic standards of "normal journalists" while still being funny and entertaining.
Simon McCormack set the bar high when he began a story about a German man who had to flee his girlfriend because she wanted too much sex with this classic from April 2012: "We've all been there."
Also, Buck makes sure to find writers who are such social pariahs, they can't make it anywhere else.
Our staff has gotten larger and weirder, thanks to the contributions of Hilary Hanson, Andres Jauregui, Sebastian Murdock and Andy Campbell, who are crack journalists (as opposed to journalists on crack).
We've also had good luck corrupting interns like Ethan Fedida and Jenna Amatulli, who may never be able to find a respectable job after working for HuffPost Weird News.
Very rarely does a day go by where someone doesn't comment, "Why is this news?"
We ask the same thing sometimes, but we're more likely to ask a more pressing question:
"You gonna eat those fries?"