'The Comet and the Tornado'

'The Comet and the Tornado' is Donald Marinelli's personal memoir, cataloguing his nearly 30 years spent working in CMU's drama department. But more than that, it is his attempt to reflect on the time he spent working side-by-side with the late Randy Pausch.

In 2007, Randy Pausch, a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, gave a talk aptly titled "The Last Lecture" to a group of CMU students, faculty and friends. Thanks to the timeliness of the lecture (Pausch died of pancreatic cancer less than one year later) and the viral nature of the Internet, Pausch went from professor to international inspiration overnight.

For six years preceding this moment, Donald Marinelli, a professor of drama, shared an office with Pausch, and together they co-founded the university's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). They also shared a vision "in making the [center] bridge the gap between art and technology, academia and industry, and help students realize their entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations."

Marinelli and Pausch were the veritable odd couple-the left-brained, logical, analytical computer scientist (Pausch) and the right-brained, creative, intuitive head of the drama department (Marinelli)-and were the yin to the other's yang. Though they often clashed professionally, during their time working together, they became very close friends.

In Pausch's "Last Lecture," he referred to Marinelli as "The Tornado," a whirlwind of energy and creativity. To Marinelli, Pausch was a comet because (as he describes in his new book) he "burst upon the scene like an astral body ... illuminating his secrets for living life to the fullest for millions of folks who needed such guidance. ... Comet Pausch left millions of people stunned, amazed, happy, giddy and seeing light where there had been only darkness ... before this amazingly beautiful comet hustled off into the universe."

The Comet and the Tornado: Reflections on the Legacy of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture & the Creation of Our Carnegie Mellon Dream Fulfillment Factory is Marinelli's personal memoir, cataloguing his nearly 30 years spent working in CMU's drama department. But more than that, it is his attempt to recall, remember, reflect upon and, at times, reconcile the years he spent working side by side with Pausch—an experience that would help shape the rest of his life.

With Pausch's instant Internet fame, millions of viewers found strength in his message, but few actually know anything about the man himself. The Comet and the Tornado is a touching account and does an excellent job of humanizing the man behind the myth, providing readers with personal insight and observations from one of Pausch's closest friends and colleagues.

As a bonus, the book comes with a DVD that contains a "synthetic interview with Marinelli, which allows [readers] to 'ask' the author more than 220 questions related to material referenced in the book."


The Comet and the Tornado: Reflections on the Legacy of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture & the Creation of Our Carnegie Mellon Dream Fulfillment Factory by Donald Marinelli; Sterling; $19.95.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl takes a history lesson in feminism, prompted by her daughter's love of dinosaurs.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Historic Opportunity: Pittsburgh's Oldest House for Sale

Historic Opportunity: Pittsburgh's Oldest House for Sale

The home was built the same year George Washington won his second term in office.
Report: Penguins Try But Fail to Acquire Blackhawk's Brandon Saad

Report: Penguins Try But Fail to Acquire Blackhawk's Brandon Saad

Instead, the Pittsburgh-area hockey phenom is headed to Columbus.
Tamari to Disappear from Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene

Tamari to Disappear from Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene

Tamari's owners have decided to close their Warrendale location.
Think You Could Be a Reality-TV Star? Here's Your Chance

Think You Could Be a Reality-TV Star? Here's Your Chance

The producers of "The Next Reality Star: Pittsburgh" share some do's and don'ts for potential candidates.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl takes a history lesson in feminism, prompted by her daughter's love of dinosaurs.
Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

These summertime looks sourced from Lawrenceville shops will keep you feeling cool and stylish.
Bigger and Better than Ever, Pittsburgh's Vintage Grand Prix

Bigger and Better than Ever, Pittsburgh's Vintage Grand Prix

The annual Vintage Grand Prix charity event provides an automotive spectacle unmatched in North America.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module