Pausch remembered in Marinelli’s new book

Marinelli signs copies of  his book, The Comet and the Tornado. (credit: Celia Ludwinski/Photo Editor) Marinelli signs copies of his book, The Comet and the Tornado. (credit: Celia Ludwinski/Photo Editor)

Late Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Randy Pausch’s influence may have increased exponentially after the Last Lecture, but, according to colleagues, he had been an inspiring individual to work with throughout his time at Carnegie Mellon.

In his new book The Comet and the Tornado, executive producer of the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) Don Marinelli, writes about his personal transition from drama to computer science, as well as his time working at the ETC with Pausch.

Together, Marinelli and Pausch founded the ETC, the collaboration of left- and right-brained thinking. Marinelli, with a background in drama, was the creative right-brained thinker, while Pausch, with a computer science degree, was much more left-brained.

The title of the book originates in the nicknames of the two colleagues. Pausch called Marinelli the “Tornado,” referring to his vibrant energy and creativity. While thinking of a word to describe Pausch, Marinelli came up with the “Comet.” “Comet Randy 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 Randy left millions of people stunned, amazed, happy, giddy, and seeing light where there had been only darkness,” Marinelli said in a Carnegie Mellon press release.

Marinelli’s motive behind putting the book together was two-fold. Pausch’s name has been mainly associated with the creation of the Alice software but he has also played a major role at the ETC. “Few know that the ETC really is the legacy of Randy Pausch, so I wanted to set the record straight,” Marinelli said. Secondly, Marinelli opines that Pausch is now viewed as a saint and through this book Marinelli wants to bring some of the humanity back to Pausch’s image. “I don’t want Randy to lose the ‘human’… humanity is a great strength,” he said.

Crystal Lee, a graduate student in lighting and design, heard Marinelli speak about his book at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology in Kansas City, Missouri, and wanted to read more about it. “Since the School of Drama is closely affiliated with the ETC, I wanted to see how the ETC was formed prior to my coming to CMU,” she said.

Marinelli hopes to write a second book in the future, but is currently focused on continuing to make the ETC a global initiative, recruiting people from around the world to contribute their left- and right-brained talents.