Christine Baranski of Buffalo turns 70

Diane Lockhart

Christine Baranski

I’ve enjoyed the performances of Christine Baranski for many years. She was the best thing in the sitcom Cybill (1995-1998) as the sophisticated Maryann Thorpe. But I, and most people, know her as the smart and calculating Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife and its successor series, The Good Fight.

In a CBS Sunday Morning interview from January 2022, “Correspondent Mo Rocca asked Baranski, ‘Why do you think so often you’ve been cast as intellectual, sophisticated, high-status characters?’

“‘Because I’m sophisticated and intellectual!’ she laughed. ‘I don’t know! It makes me laugh, because when… people really look up… Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills, and where I come from?’

“Yes, Baranski is a proud Buffalonian, the daughter of Virginia and Lucien Baranski, who grew up steeped in her family’s Polish culture.”

That’s it. Even when she’s the snarky friend in Mamma Mia or the haughty reporter in Chicago – “Understandable! Understandable!” – she has that upstate New York rootedness. Her father died when she was eight. She attended Catholic school for 12 years, including an all-girls high school.


In Town and Country, she described sharing a room with her grandmother, “who had been an actress in the Polish theater. ‘I grew up with an Auntie Mame kind of personality. She was vivacious,’” and she passed on a love of the stage to her granddaughter…

“‘By the time I was 17 or 18, I was acting in not only plays in high school, but I got into this workshop and was doing street theater and performing with kids from all over the city. I was from a very insular kind of life. And suddenly, I was performing with Black kids and Jewish kids and it blew my world wide open.’

“Around that time, she read about the Juilliard School, and pinned the article to her wall, thinking: ‘This is where I want to go.'” But as she noted in the New Yorker, she was initially waitlisted. “I had my teeth capped and would do a series of syllable and ‘S’ exercises. Then I returned to New York for an audition and did nothing but pages of ‘S’ words, and they let me in. So I would say I got in by the skin of my teeth.”

More upper-crust

Nathan Lane spoke of his “the Birdcage” co-star, “She is a consummate actress and professional and a great deal of fun.” He only regrets that they didn’t have more scenes together in their new project The Gilded Age. Christine once again plays that upper-crust role, the moneyed Agnes Van Rhijn.

I think she is quite centered, not just because of her background. Probably it’s because she was a working stage performer before her television career started in her forties. Though she had been encouraged early on to change her name to something less ethnic, she never did.

Christine Baranski turns 70 on May 2.

The Good Fight and other Sunday TV

no CBS All Access for me

Good FightBefore The Good Fight aired in 2017, I was a huge fan of the TV seriesThe Good Wife (2009-2016). Maybe it was the premise. In real life, the US was experiencing a series of sex scandals, involving high profile male politicians.

Often, but not always, there was a wife standing by her husband. It happened in New York State, with Eliot Spitzer, the crime-fighting attorney general who became governor. But it as revealed that Spitzer, in his former role, was also prostitute-facilitating Client 9.

Likewise “Alicia [Julianna Margulies] has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney [Chris Noth]. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm.”

After the run ended, there was a spinoff called The Good Fight, starring Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, Alicia’s former boss/partner/frenemy. CBS showed the first episode. To see others, though, one had to sign onto something called CBS All Access. No thanks. The new Star Trek is on the same platform.

Now, after the third season of The Good Fight, with another one scheduled, Season 1 is being shown on CBS broadcast TV, each Sunday night. I’m excited, but not enough to have watched any of the five episodes I’ve recorded. I know lots of folks like to binge on these things, but it’s not me.

That means the DVR records a lot Sunday nights. In addition to The Good Fight, there are also one or two episodes of 60 Minutes episodes. Of course, most of them I’ve already seen unless some NFL football game, NCAA basketball contest or golf tournament ran long.

The other hour is The $100,000 Pyramid. It’s a game show that initially aired in 1973 as the $10,000 Pyramid, hosted by the late Dick Clark. Former NFL linebacker Michael Strahan is the current host. The game plays the same as it did decades ago. The clues in the first round may be more explicit – “horny” was a word a contestant had to convey recently.

Whereas I specifically dislike some of the other shows ABC has brought back, such as To Tell The Truth and Match Game, though I had watched them in earlier incarnations. I have no interest in seeing Press Your Luck or Card Sharks then or now.

April Rambling: Mr. Rogers, and SNL

“A wonderful experience, but it also tests the limits of human emotions.”

Here’s A News Report We’d Be Reading If Walter Scott’s Killing Wasn’t On Video. Also, from Albany: Chief Krokoff’s Retirement And The Ivy Incident.

Orioles COO John Angelos offers an eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests. And from late 2013, David Simon: ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’.

Looking forward to watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight this weekend? I’m not.

Religious Freedom: Colorado’s sensible middle way. Also, ‘The Good Wife’ Defends Gay Marriage Against ‘Religious Freedom’ and Matthew Vines: “God and the Gay Christian”.

Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an” and Practicing Islam At A Catholic University.

Kitty Litter Shuts Down Sole US Nuclear Weapons Waste Facility.

20 photos that change the Holocaust narrative.

Not everyone has come to grips with the reality of that spring day in 1995.

Virginia is still imprisoning an almost certainly innocent man—even after he did the time.

Meryl Jaffe analyzes “March: Book 2” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell.

Before Jackie Robinson.

Six things not to say to a mixed-race person.

The Radical Politics of Mister Rogers.

Jeb ‘Put Me Through Hell’. “Michael Schiavo knows as well as anyone what Jeb Bush can do with executive power. He thinks you ought to know too.”

In the “really sucks” category, my buddy Eddie Mitchell still has cancer.

Dustbury’s blog turns 19. I love that Steely Dan song. Speaking of which, he masterfully blends Meghan Trainor, Maya Angelou and Steely Dan in a piece about selfies.

ADD asks “How Do You Decide What’s Right and Wrong?”

Mark Evanier and his dad: on retirement.

Jack Rollins celebrates his 100th birthday. He has managed Harry Belafonte, Woody Allen, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Joan Rivers, Nichols and May, Tony Bennett, Jim Carrey, Dick Cavett, Diane Keaton, David Letterman, and a bunch more.

A telegram Joan Crawford sent to Rod Serling after she saw The Planet of the Apes (1968).

The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News. Also, A DUMB JOB: How is it possible that the inane institution of the anchorman has endured for more than 60 years?

SNL is: Nora Dunn: “A traumatic experience. It’s something you have to survive.”. Also, “‘A wonderful experience, but it also tests the limits of human emotions”: Gary Kroeger looks back on his three seasons.

Frog explains how the filmmakers wrecked The Incredible Hulk movie.

What the critics wrote about the Beatles in 1964. And The least-celebrated Beatle is finally getting the respect he deserves.

Apparently, Dancing with the Stars and The Voice are using the arrangements of Postmodern Jukebox without acknowledging the group. Here are their versions of Wiggle (Jason Derulo/Snoop Dogg cover) and Creep (Radiohead cover).

Joni Mitchell is Not a “60s Folksinger”.

Percy Sledge.

SamuraiFrog ranking Weird Al: 115-101 and 100-91.

K-Chuck Radio: Guitars sound better with fuzz.

The Laughing Heart (Listen – it’s just one minute.) Never Let Go – Tom Waits Cover.

The top 100 movie number quotes.

Muppets: 40 minutes of “Sam and Friends and Tough Pigs has been collecting those Muppet Moments from Disney Junior and Aveggies: Age of Bon Bons and Cookie Monster, artist and Game of Chairs and one grouch’s trash is another grouch’s outfit and Taraji P. Henson on Sesame Street (sort of) and SamuraiFrog’s Toad Dweebie and Miss Piggy is recipient of prestigious New York museum award.

Passover, Rube Goldberg style.


After a hiatus of more than a year, the podcast 2political is back on a regular schedule! With Arthur (yes, THAT Arthur) and Jason, from DC.

Jaquandor answers a bunch of my questions.

Dustbury points out the Judgmental Map of Oklahoma City. He is also disinclined to get a smartphone.

Gordon now has a greater appreciation for the work of librarians and realizes why libraries are important.


This was unsettling: Ex-Burnley teacher Roger Green dies aged 62. BTW, I am 62.

Watching that TV show again

There is even research to suggest that re-watching television shows is good for you.

good-wife-the-second-season-dvd-coverOne of the joyous experiences I have had recently is periodically watching episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) with The Daughter. I bought the complete five seasons a couple of years and we’re down to the last half dozen of 158 episodes. It’s interesting watching what she finds funny, or mystifying. I’m also fascinated by what programs I remember very well (the Christmas show early on, the ventriloquist Paul Winchell near the end), and others not so much. Mark Evanier has been revisiting the classic show too.

In some ways, I’m like this columnist who sometimes would rather re-watch a program she enjoyed, rather than venture out and try new stuff, even though there is a lot of quality stuff out there (The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad) I’ve never seen. Especially, as she does (and I don’t) when she binge-watched it in the first place. Of The Good Wife, one of the few shows I now watch regularly, she notes:

I’d binged… on some excellent series… But by the time I was finished with “The Good Wife,” I was spent. No more new characters, please. No more new cliffhangers. I needed some consistency and predictability in my life.

A better person than I would have seen my exhaustion as a sign that it was time to finally read “Middlemarch.” Instead, I re-watched all of “The Good Wife” and made a discovery: It was better the second time around. No need to gobble up an episode just to get on to the next. One episode, maybe two, in an evening, and then sleep.

I already knew what Peter Florrick was up to, how things would play out with Alicia and Will. Free from the suspense, I could savor the subtleties of dialogue and acting, marvel at how much I’d missed in my initial mad dash from episode to episode.

In exchange for the adrenaline of the first watching, I got the comfort of the re-watching. It was like hanging out with old friends: predictable, but not without pleasure and surprise…

My survey of friends suggests that a lot more people are re-watching shows rather than hopping from series to series without a breather.

There is even research to suggest that re-watching shows is good for you. A couple of years ago, a researcher at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions published a paper claiming that watching a rerun of a favorite show – not just any show, but one you like – gives you a mental boost. Human beings seek novelty, but we also crave familiarity.

Yes, she points out something I feel may be true, but since I don’t do myself, I cannot verify: you miss out on the subtleties when you binge-watch.

This clip of the congregation in The Simpsons singing an I. Ron Butterfly hymn still makes me chuckle, more than 20 years later.

One of the shows I used to watch religiously was MASH. Indeed, I liked it so much, I’d often watch the summer reruns. But somewhere about season 8, I stopped watching the reruns. This article by Ken Levine, who wrote for the show in the later years, touches on why; they started, generally inadvertently, recycling plotlines. Why would I need to watch the rerun when the story itself was being replicated?

Also, the chronology of the stories was too incredible; Trapper in a story referencing 1952, a Winchester story mentioning Christmas 1951. I’ve long thought the show should have ended when Radar went home early in season 8, though there were some great episodes after that, such as Dreams.

So, I’ll catch an occasional random MASH episode, but there’s no compulsion on my part to watch it in order.
Lost Cartoon Pilot: “Black, Kloke & Dagga” (1967) from Morey Amsterdam’s cartoon studio.

May Rambling #2: New Zealand music

I rant about the JEOPARDY! Million-Dollar Tournament.
Descendants of Solomon Northup, who recounted his story in a memoir, 12 Years A Slave.

The Real Origins of the Religious Right. “They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.”

Dustbury points to an article about how the ineptitude of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and its predecessors, go back nearly a century.

The Worst Argument Ever Made Against Gay Marriage.

Amy Biancolli’s book: To plunge is to live. Also, her parents in love.

Judy Sanders, a former local news reporter and photographer, is dying of ovarian cancer. Confronting the long goodbye from Paul Grondahl, and a piece by her former colleague, Ken Screven.

Diane Cameron’s blog Love in the Time of Cancer has been going on since 2008, but I just discovered it.

Getting kicked out of the prom.

New York Erratic asked: “Have you ever dated anyone who turned out to be gay?” I had a serious relationship with a woman who left me for another woman, with whom she stayed for some time. About 20 years later, she married a man, an old friend of hers.

Dan writes about The Casino And All The Promises, which is both a local issue and a cautionary narrative if casinos are offered to your town.

Lisa has been having the same blog problems I have

Mr. Frog on meeting celebrities

The Good Wife is my favorite TV show. Here’s why I love it, and why I have a difficult time explaining it to others.

Dustbury reminds me why I love word processing, and wish I had a goat.

A great interview with Mel Brooks, who’s promoting the rerelease of Blazing Saddles.

Dead Man Walking, and Burying the Bentley.

Mark Evanier’s childhood, and the color orange. Sweet story of coincidence.

New Paltz Students Find $40K in a Couch; NP is my alma mater, BTW.

Luckiest Unlucky Man or Unluckiest Lucky Man?

You’re Not Here. Abbott and Costello with the famed movie tough guy, Mike Mazurki.

How did Fred Astaire literally dance on the ceiling in the movie Royal Wedding?
The Oatmeal cartoon about irony. Is it ironic that the song Ironic is not about being ironic?

LYNDA BARRY SELLS OUT. I love her work.

Irene Vartanoff writes about Marvel Comics’ original artwork in the 1960s. And she would know.

Drawn Out: The 50 Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels.

The Documentary “Stripped” shows the past and future of comic strips. I supported Kickstarter for this.

Arthur celebrates NZMM: New Zealand Music Month. Lots of good stuff, but I must note #14, “New Zealand’s First Record.”

Tosy: U2 – Ranked 80-71 and 70-61.

Another great review of the niece’s album: Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact. (Hey, it’s good!)

Pantheon Songs remembers Marvin Gaye.

Muppet section: Joe Raposo and Roosevelt Franklin and Time In A Bottle. “Today me will live in the moment unless it’s unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie.” – Cookie Monster.

What IS a photocopier?

How do you spell the color: grey or gray?
The local Jewish Community Center had an ad campaign many found offensive. Several others thought it was poor because they couldn’t even read what it said. In any case, the ad is gone, and a couple of people suggested my blog post on the topic may have helped.

SamuraiFrog said ‘Why Not Ask Me Anything?’ and blamescredits me for him doing so. He answers my questions about music, and specifically about Billy Joel.

Likewise, Arthur’s Internet wading was my fault, or suggestion.

I rant about the JEOPARDY! Million-Dollar Tournament.

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