Q & A: Don Marinelli, Entertainment Technology Center
Don Marinelli is co-founder and executive producer of the Entertainment Technology Center, one of Pittsburgh's most unique and outstanding assets. His book, The Comet and the Tornado, about his relationship with co-founder Randy Pausch, who died last year of pancreatic cancer after becoming known worldwide following his Last Lecture at CMU, was just published and is available here. Marinelli is known as a creative force, brilliant and inventive and not surprisingly, quite entertaining.
What are you working on?
Further expansion of the CMU Entertainment Technology Center
into additional countries around the globe. (They are currently in Austrailia and Japan as well as Silicon Valley.)Why did you write your new book, The Comet and the Tornado, which just came out in April?
I felt much was missing about Randy the "man" from The Last Lecture. I view my book as both a prequel to the Last Lecture as well as an epilogue. I also continue to believe the ETC to be Randy's biggest and most important legacy and wanted to put that into print.How is the book doing?
The book is in its second printing which is good. Word of mouth is good, though there have been no actual reviews as of yet. That's a little puzzling.What's shaking at the ETC these days?
Amazing students from all over the globe working on amazing projects, most of which are focused on improving education and life in general. Of course, they continue to find ways to keep the Earth safe from alien invasions, but this is also a very practical generation.You've lived Pittsburgh for over 30 years now. If you could change one thing about Pittsburgh, what would it be?
I'd love to tackle the decrepit state of Pittsburgh city government and its finances. I'd also clean up the city – its filthy: graffiti, litter, abandoned buildings, crumbling sidewalks, potholes, an utter disgrace.What are you most curious about these days?
Will the Republic survive the current state of fiscal insanity? And, if it doesn't, contemplating which tribe will I belong to?How do you like to solve big problems?
With common sense; as Randy proclaimed in his Last Lecture: Strive to overcome the brick walls. I personally take no greater pleasure than in tearing them down.If you had a million dollars to give to Pittsburgh, what would you do with it?
Recruit young people to clean up the trash that litters this otherwise beautiful city and its many hills and valleys. The litter is a disgrace; something that should be addressed by any mayor that truly cared.What's your favorite possession, big or small?
My baseball card collection and my autographed book collection.
Favorite thing to do?
Go to baseball games. Traveling to other ballparks, major and minor league, ranks very high.What period of you life would you like to live over?
I am not nostalgic. I would not want to go backwards if it required me to forgo whatever knowledge and wisdom I learned or encountered yesterday.
What is your motto?
Go for the Gusto or Don't Go at All. I took it from an old Schlitz beer commercial.What's the best thing anyone ever said about you?
"Sharing an office with Don was like sharing an office with a tornado – there was so much energy." Recounted by Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture.What public figure do you most admire?
Frankly, I admire more those people who do things for the betterment of humanity but out of the public eye.
What is your idea of happiness?
Not being aware of time.What is your current state of mind?
Perplexed, anxious, somewhat sad because so much remains to be done while the mortality clock continues to tick away.What is your preferred state of mind?
Contemplating the future – I find it to be a genuine incentiveWhat do you consider your greatest achievement?
Creating an educational environment that most students appear to thrive within.
Where would you like to live?
I love Pittsburgh, so long as I can continue traveling the world. I know I want to be buried or have my ashes spread in the Burgh. This is home. I feel one with the Burgh, despite--or perhaps because of-- a ridiculous city government.Who are your favorite people?
Anyone who speaks his or her mind; I hate repressed people.Which historical figure do you most identify with?
St. Peter: loud, dim-witted at times, stubborn, never really getting anything right the first time, but feeling a great sense of responsibility to make the world a better place.What book are you reading? The Monster of Florence,
which I would recommend. It is as much as indictment of the Italian legal system as it is a crime story. Hmm, so in that regard they are both crime stories!Sign up
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