Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

RN: The Tacky-O-Meter is going full tilt during these Winter Olympics.

CP: I know. I watched some pairs skating while working on my taxes the other night. The words "hot mess" leap to mind in describing most of the ice skaters' costumes. If it's not an opaque bodysuit stitched by a manic Bedazzler, it's wafty trails of gossamer torn to resemble a bruised peacock.

RN: It's as if all the rejects from "Project Runway" were assigned a skating-costume challenge, handed a hot glue gun and $1.50, hustled off to Mood Fabrics and given three hours to complete the assignment, blindfolded.

CP: The skating programs are accompanied by the worst of the romantic violin repertoire, generally jazzed up in the second half by some terrible uptempo thing, either School of Bolero or one of those 11 o'clock Broadway songs you love so well.

RN: Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Olympic skating competition are a syrup-covered match made in heaven. Cue "Memory"!

CP: Then there's the TV coverage, with its endless timeworn bromides about "pursuing an Olympic dream," "decades of sacrifice" and "representing his country."

RN: This comes as a surprise to you? I think it was ABC's long-ago Olympic coverage that invented those sick-making "Up Close and Personal" TV profiles. Pass the Pepto-Bismol.

CP: Just once, I'd love to hear an athlete say, "I was never really into the Olympics, but my Type-A mom pushed me into it, so here I am." And then shrug and sneak a drag off a cigarette.

RN: Blame the stage mother, eh? Even the Games' architecture is a big snooze. Yeah, the Winter Olympics are never the design showstoppers that their summer counterparts are -- the landmarks built in Beijing, Montreal, Munich and Tokyo all come to mind -- but most of Vancouver's Olympic structures would fit right in on the Normandale Community College campus. Toronto Star critic Christopher Hume lambasted the Canadian national pavilion as a "$10 million dud" that could be mistaken for a temporary public toilet. Ouch.

CP: And the interior design? Come on, NBC. Surely you can do better than planting Bob Costas in yet another imitation ski chalet with a fireplace and a fieldstone wall. Perhaps you might have asked one of your nice gay staffers for an idea or two.

RN: Or Nate Berkus. Not that I noticed, as NBC is appearing to air more advertising than athletic competition. The No. 4 network paid $820 million for the broadcast rights, and recouping that investment apparently requires thousands of Cymbalta ads.

CP: I may need some Cymbalta if I keep watching "these Olympic games" much longer. So what if the antidepressant has 25 serious side effects? I want to be as preternaturally cheery as Dick Button.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com.

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