At first it seemed like an elaborate prank. We'd lock up our bicycle to do some bargain hunting at the Potrero Center (you never know what discount designer treasures you might find at that Ross!) and return to just a little bit less of our bike than we left. First were missing reflectors, then valve caps, brake levers, and -- perhaps most disagreeably -- the seat. After a conversation with the roving rent-a-cop, we discovered that the subterranean lot below the strip mall at 16th and Bryant streets may be the sketchiest parking lot in San Francisco. According to him, the dimly lit underground garage has no security cameras and is rarely patrolled by the lone on-duty security officers. "They could probably steal a tank out of there without anyone noticing," he quipped. Or maybe they're just trying to build one out of bike parts. N.C.
We don't really remember why we wandered into the Disney Store on Union Square last month; Christmas was long over, and you can't say we really needed anything Disney. But our attention was caught by an entire wall full of Edna Mode interactive talking dolls, priced at 50 percent of their original $39.50 tag. Now, we worship Edna Mode, the genius character from The Incredibles, a tiny, intense superhero costume designer ("No capes, darling!") who reminds people of numerous style icons, including Edith Head, Anna Wintour, and Elsa Klensch (our own picks: Linda Hunt and Andrée Putman). The 14-inch-tall mannequin (and her 60 sayings -- "Let me design something for you, OK, darling?" -- voiced by director Brad Bird) haunted our waking dreams until we gave in and called the Disney Store, only to find out that every single Edna had been swept off the shelves after an additional 30 percent discount. eBay to the rescue! We found numerous Mlle Modes, including one from a lovely seller in Michigan whose total cost, including shipping, worked out to less than we would have spent on that fateful day in January. As of now, however, Edna's still NRFB (for you neophytes, that's "Never Removed From Box"). The curse of the collector: If we actually want to have a chat with her, we may need another. M.B.