Things go wrong in most stories. It would be a dull plot that did not include an upset, a setback or an obstacle.
But it takes a special kind of reversal to turn one of these plots into a black comedy. Often it's a tiny slip that becomes a vortex of disaster; sometimes it's a growing avalanche of humiliation.
But it's always hewn from the stuff of everyday life, which we see transformed into a minefield using only the slightest shift in perspective. And it allows us to laugh while giving thanks it's not happening to us.
Theweekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.
For actress Queen Latifah, whose credits include Living Out Loud, Chicago, Beauty Shop andthe new Lifetime TV remake of Steel Magnolias, the movie she could watch a million times is 1989's Steel Magnolias.
Colin Meloy is best known as the front man for the band the Decemberists. His music is praised for its lyrical quality and the stories the songs tell, so it may not be a surprise to learn Meloy is also a writer.
His newest book is a collaboration with his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis. The book is intended for young readers, the second in a series called Wildwood Chronicles.
Before Twitter, radio, even electricity - in fact, going all the way back to pre-historic times, people gathered around fires to listen to stories. Even though the glow of computers has replaced the warmth of the campfire for most of us, some folks still hold fast to the tradition of oral storytelling.
As Missy Shelton reports, nearly 10,000 people have gathered this weekend for the National Storytelling Festival in northeast Tennessee to hear professional tellers weave some good yarns.