Rick Browne swears by his beer-butt chicken, and he's glad to show you how to make your own at this weekend's Great American Rib Cook-Off and Music Festival. It's fairly simple: Grasp a chicken by the legs. Take a can of beer and guzzle half of it. Then "slip the other half into the bird where the sun doesn't shine," Browne says. Grill it for two hours, making sure you keep the skin moist with olive oil. The result? "It's like gospel," he declares. "It's like religion."
Browne himself is something of a grill god among cookbook and public-television circles. He's published three books on barbecuing, and his 13-episode TV show, Barbecue America, aired on PBS last month. For the next nine weeks, he'll travel the summer rib-fest circuit -- 10,000 miles and 40 cities' worth of "madcap frivolity and fun" -- sharing his beer-butt-chicken recipe and other wisdom. "Well, hell," he says, "your grandmother cooked on a wood stove. This ain't rocket science." Browne will be at the Great American Rib Cook-Off and Music Festival from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Tower City Amphitheater, 351 Canal Road. Tickets are $6; call 440-247-4FUN. -- Cris Glaser
Eastern enlightenment hits the near West Side.
5/27 - 9/2
Ani Palmo comes straight out with it: The nice Catholic girl from Garfield Heights is now a Buddhist nun. Her 15-week workshop called "What Is Buddhism?" explores the religion's history and philosophy, as well as her unlikely path toward it. "I'm not a spiritual adviser. I'm not interested in converting anybody," Palmo says. But her story is worth a listen. In the mid-'80s, Palmo (then Catherine Rybicki ) started a new job as an English teacher in Japan. After visiting a Buddhist retreat in Thailand, she quit her job and spent the next three years studying Buddhism in France. In 1994, she was ordained a Nyingma nun. Palma will be in town through the summer teaching "What Is Buddhism?"; it starts at 7 p.m. May 27 at Jewel Heart Cleveland, 2670 West 14th Street. Cost is $35 a month; call 400-526-6577. -- Cris Glaser
Draft of Champions
All that bad basketball last season hopefully will pay off for the Cavaliers, who are hosting an NBA Lottery Party at Champps. Tonight we'll know whether LeBron James will be sporting Cavs colors next season. The 5:30 shindig, culminating in the NBA lottery that determines the Cavaliers' draft order, includes appearances by former Cavs Larry Nance and Campy Russell. Champps Restaurant and Bar is at 5989 Canal Road in Valley View. Admission is free; call 216-420-2287. -- Michael Gallucci
Japan's shutterbugs have their day at CMA.
5/25 - 7/20
The History of Japanese Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art is the country's first monumental gathering of work documenting Japan's 150-year fascination with photographs. "It [reflects] a balancing of Western modernity and Japanese tradition," explains Tom Hinson, the museum's curator of photography. More than 180 pieces make up the free exhibition (which opens Sunday and runs through July 20). "Everything is filtered through [Japan's] aesthetic and cultural stamp," says Hinson. The art museum (11150 East Boulevard) is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays); call 216-421-7340. -- Michael Gallucci