Who knew? Starchy root vegetables make brilliant literary devices!

Well, apparently, David Carr—Times media reporter and, currently, everyone’s favorite rehabilitated drug addict—did! The NY Press’s David Blum has uncovered a strange pattern of spud-slinging in Carr’s writing—and specifically, a pattern of using the potato as a quirky descriptor of the face. As when, for example, Carr describes Tim Russert (“He had a face that seemed to be carved out of potatoes, but he worked on television by working harder than your average talking head…”) or when he depicts his own distinctive visage: “Far from clinically handsome, I have a face that looks like it could have been carved out of mashed potatoes, and my idea of exercise was running the length of my body.”

Brilliant! My broccoli-like brain is beguiled!

Below, some of Carr’s spud-tastic metaphors, as curated by Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan:

Describing himself:

“….with a face made out of potatoes, the Photoshopped picture will have to go a long way to make me any uglier than I actually am.”

“With a face that looks as if it were crafted out of mashed potatoes and a voice that sounds like a trash compactor that needs oil, I’m not a natural for television…”

Describing actors:

“To the Bagger’s eye, [Daniel Craig] has a face made out of potatoes—although the rest of him seems to be made out of titanium…”

“Directors tend to focus on [Steve] Buscemi’s visage, shooting his face so it looks something like what might happen to a bowl of mashed potatoes if it were sculptured [sic] by an ax.”

“And Detective Sipowicz [Dennis Franz], with a face that looks as if it were carved out of potatoes and the body style of a greeter at Home Depot, was an unlikely hero.”

Describing author Joe McGinniss:

“[McGinniss] had an old cap set against the Sunday morning sun, a handsome Irish face that could have been carved out of potatoes, and a glint of tragedy in his eyes.”

Good lord…talk about a potato trip. Thanks a lat(ke) for the metaphors!


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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.