Thumping blues, jangly rock music, and the smells of barbecue pits slow-cooking pork ribs and brisket fill the Victorville Fairgrounds during the annual High Desert Music Festival & BBQ Showdown. The two-day event challenges pit-masters from around the Southwest to square off in a barbecue competition—and conquer the reigning champion—by sharing their sauce-slathered dishes with visitors, while judges from the Kansas City Barbecue Society look on. Meanwhile, local and Grammy-nominated international musicians perform on an outdoor stage, and a car show displays vehicles ranging from classic cars to custom modern rides.
The clatter of toppling pins resounds through the walls of the 89 locations of Bowling Centers of Southern California, which are scattered across Southern California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Each alley abounds with modern lanes and equipment, and many boast concession stands, lounges, and game rooms. The family-friendly centers host regular public bowling sessions and league tournaments. Many of the centers also host private birthday parties, which science has proven to be more fun than birthday parties covered by the paparazzi.
The scriptless, propless performers of improv troupe Darwin’s A-Team conjure absurd situations with nothing more than audience members' suggestions and their own imaginations. Characterized by surprising dialogue and a refusal to release laughing gas into the audience, the chuckle-hungry collective rings in 2012 with It’s the New Year … Now What?, its first performance of the year. The show takes place in the High Desert Center for the Arts, a recently refurbished theater whose chandeliers, plush seating, and coat-check room full of tiaras create an elegant atmosphere for refined rib-tickling.