'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

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

5 Don't-Miss Events in Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Week Celebration

5 Don't-Miss Events in Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Week Celebration

Everything you need to know, plus a survival guide for the parade.
5 Classic Pittsburghers Still Popular on YouTube

5 Classic Pittsburghers Still Popular on YouTube

From Fred Rogers to Pittsburgh traffic cop Vic Cianca to weatherman Joe DeNardo, these 'Burghers are fun to watch and remember.
Comic Aaron Kleiber to Headline at the Pittsburgh Improv

Comic Aaron Kleiber to Headline at the Pittsburgh Improv

Grab tickets now for next weekend's four-day run.
See the Resume Tape That Landed Sally Wiggin in Pittsburgh

See the Resume Tape That Landed Sally Wiggin in Pittsburgh

Wiggin is celebrating 35 years on Pittsburgh television.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Todd Kreidler, who helped to conceive the Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright’s final written work, returns to Pittsburgh to direct that play, continuing his mission to keep the master’s words alive.
Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Lawrenceville hot spot Tender, once favored primarily for its libations, now is known as well for its culinary offerings.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module