The Cure for Insomnia; Magicicadas

I couldn’t fall asleep last night.

My alarm clock projects the time on my ceiling.  Around 4:15 in the morning, I got out of bed and took two non-prescription sleeping pills.

Still, I did not fall asleep.

My thoughts drifted to the film The Cure for Insomnia. At 87 hours in length, it is the third longest movie ever made. There is no plot.   It simply consists of artist Lee Groban reading his 4,080 page poem over the course of three and a half days, spliced with stock footage from heavy metal videos and clips from pornographic movies.

I have never seen The Cure for Insomnia, although I have felt interest, especially on nights like the last.

Other thoughts came and went. My body was going numb as a result of the sleeping pills, but my mind remained somewhat functional. Another glance at the ceiling told me it was 5:45.

Next my mind wandered to Magicicadas. Earlier in the day, I had told Elliot that I thought they were going to take over the world.

Magicicadas emerge after 13 or 17 years underground in numbers as large as 1.5 million individuals per acre.

As one who fears all bugs, I imagine this a horrifying event to witness.

Often confused with the locust, the Magicicada is actually a type of periodical cicada. These insects have large eyes spaced far apart on the head and transparent, veined wings. They have three small eyes located on the top of the head between the two larger eyes, which match the larger ones in color. Cicadas are usually 1-2 inches long but some species can reach 6 inches.

The genus Magicicada are black with red eyes and yellow or orange stripes on the underside. The veins on the wings are orange. On average, adult Magicicadas are a little over an inch in size.

Once they emerge from their subterranean childhood, they live for only a few weeks, their sole purpose being reproduction. The males sing a mating song using a vibrating membrane called a tymbal. The sounds of this chorus can reach 100 decibels. (This is comparable to a jet takeoff at 1,000 feet away. The level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss is 90-95 decibels.) Females respond to the calls with timed wing-flicks, which in turn attract the males.

The next 13-year cicadas are scheduled to emerge in 2011 in the Midwest, Maryland, and Virginia. The next 17-year cicadas are scheduled to emerge in 2012 in western Virginia and West Virginia.

Not to worry – they are harmless insects; they do not bite or sting. They are not venomous, and there is no evidence that they transmit diseases. Although in my half-slumber dreams last night, they stood on hind legs and held machine guns.

I’m feeling self-destructive again. Stuck in circles. Waiting for the Magicicadas to emerge.

Excerpt from The Cure for Insomnia:

I wonder how come
the cartoonists of our most popular newspaper comic strips
never use Polish, Armenian, or Romany Gypsy names for their characters?
Why only Western European names?
“THAT all y’do all day? Soun’s like a drag…”
By the beard of the Lord Eordogh of Ordogkeresztur and Nagyeskulo,
it’s a drag.
By the beard of the Lord Cseffei of Totor and Noszalya,
it’s a drag.
By the beard of the Lord Bethlen of Kallo, Ecsed, Tokaj, Szendo, Murany, Szecseny, and Regecz,
it’s a drag.
By the beard of the Lord Tomori of Devecser, Besenyo, Gyanda, Borsfalva, Csobad, Felso-Homrogd, Also-Homrogd, Hegymeg, Berkes, Szakacsi, Kercs, Senye, Cseb, Nyilas, Abauj, and Borsod,
it’s a drag.
By the beard of the Lord Dolhai of Kereczke, Kusnicza, Zadnya, Kelecseny, Vizkoz, and Okormezo,
it’s a drag.

Magicicadas (above)

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