Quality is Subtle

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I’ve spent the last week or so in Vegas, and I’ve finally crystalized a thought I’ve had for a while now. In short, most quality things in life seem to be subtle and balanced rather than one-dimentional or overpowering.

Let that simmer while we explore some examples:

Wine and Beer

I didn’t like wine until I was in my thirties. Tragic, I know. How did this happen? Simple: I was only exposed to bad wine, which tasted like an organic cleaning product.

I gave it a serious effort like five times, and each time I convinced myself that I would not drink crap just to appear sophisticated. So I didn’t.

But then, one day, I had–quite accidentally–a good glass of wine.

I was deeply offended. I looked at whoever was there and said:

What the hell? This is wine? This is brilliant! What was that other stuff?

Their response only annoyed me more:

Um, that’s garbage. Nobody drinks that unless they’re trying to get drunk on very little money.


Japanese Food

I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a couple of extremely high quality Sashimi/Sushi meals in the last few months.

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Out of the approximately 40 samplers I’ve had, I’d say five of them were basically euphoric. What was it? It was a gentleness of flavor presentation. It was a timed release of various rolling sensations that combined to produce nothing less than an experience.

It was just like the cooking shows–except in my brain instead of someone else’s. I never believed those orgasmic facial expressions of people tasting food. I do now. Turns out I was doing it wrong.


Highly cultured and impressive people don’t strike you in the face with bad cologne and an outrageous tone when they meet you. They are not not Andrew Dice Clay or Gilbert Godfried. Instead, they approach quietly, dressed elegantly, and skillfully pivot from topic to topic without drawing much attention.


Good music has layers. Good music can be enjoyed time and time again without becoming annoying. Top 40 gangster rap songs are Gilbert Godfried. A passionate response followed by revulsion. Fur Elise is something you can continue to enjoy for a lifetime without tiring.

Human Attraction

What differentiates a sophisticated woman or woman from Nantucket and a stereotypically lower-class person doing their best to appear attractive?

Simple: gaudiness vs. subtlety. Massive gold chains. Too many gold chains. Too much makeup. Compare that against subtle use of makeup and jewelry. Imagine each man and woman in your mind. I don’t even have to say which is which–it’s that obvious.


Do good stories follow this? I think so. You have books/movies that open with 40 ninjas dying, and then go from there, and you have stories that start slow and stir your emotions and ideas in numerous ways as it builds. Again–gentle, complex, subtle.


Quality first appears rather tame and then overwhelms you with its quiet sophistication. The difference is balance. Balance allows you to be hit gently with a dozen different sensations (attraction, intrigue, cedar, spice, humor, wit, etc.) without being overwhelmed by any of them.

Think about the things you enjoy. Does this model of quality apply? And if not, tell me why. Eager to discuss.

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