Heavy Heaving

The Scots know about throwing games

Let us be thankful for Scotland. Land of bagpipes, kilts and golf. Land of attitude, accent and Sean Connery. And land of some unique forms of sport, almost all of which involve throwing something heavy. (Dwarf-tossing is allegedly an Australian invention, but don't forget that many an Aussie has Scottish ancestors.) You can check out several of these heavyweight sports at this weekend's Houston Highland Games and Celtic Festival. Of course, the event features a hammer throw, which is an Olympic sport. But this summer in Athens, you're not likely to see a sheaf toss, in which sheaves of hay wrapped in burlap are tossed by pitchfork-wielding Scotsmen over a crossbar suspended between two tall poles. Then there's the caber toss, where guys throw a telephone pole (or caber) so it lands upright on its end. Other weights and stones will be hurled using different methods, hopefully not resulting in too many thrown-out backs. In the meantime, there's dancing, fiddling, kilt-fitting and shortbread cooking. Note: At the games, be careful not to call anyone a "tosser." 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 16. Houston Farm and Ranch Club at Bear Creek Park, 1 Abercrombie. For information, call 281-498-5746 or visit www.houstonhighlandgames.com. $5 to $12. -- Eric Norvell

His or Hernias

The bulging biceps, the chiseled quads, the veins jutting like worms through massive forearms -- damn that's hot! Normally fodder for Saturday-afternoon ESPN, bodybuilding championships can be so ten-years-ago, what with people lifting cars now to strut their strength. Which gives the 2004 Lee Labrada Physique Tournament quite a bit of charm. Not just for refrigerator-sized guys with receding hairlines and hernia belts, the event includes women's, men's, teens' and even seniors' classes. Sure, it may be unsettling seeing Grandpa showing off his shiny orange pecks, but there'll be fitness experts, trainers and plenty of buff bodies around to keep you occupied. (Just try not to flex when the cuties walk by -- we're on to you). 9 a.m. Saturday, May 15. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, call 800-832-9948 or visit www.labrada.com. $9.50 to $55. -- Steven Devadanam

 
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