Darin, a couple of slightly contrary thoughts:
Re insects, how about insect pornography? Namely, copulation. Head shots of Mantids. I'm sure they're relatively stupid, but they can look very thoughtful.
Re fuzz, its the old school of f/64 vs. the pictorialists all over again. Everyone's wrong, me included.
Re hardships of macro, are you nuts? If you're willing to use an SLR and light with flash and know the trick, nothing is easier. Its a simple trick, too, leaves the photographer with nothing to worry about but focus and composition.
Re sharp focus, yeah, yeah, yeah, reasonably sharp in the plane of best focus is possible but otherwise there's never enough depth of field. With subjects that have any depth at all good sharpness overall is very hard to achieve.
Re flat lighting, see my comment above on doing it the easy way.
High, um, tension can trump fuzz. In '72 I shot a tank of Firemouth Cichlids in the Amsterdam Zoo's aquarium. Not a very close shot, probably at around 1:5. About three pairs of fish, arrayed symmetrically, all in full threat display. Striking image, won prizes, but I'm ashamed that it isn't really sharp anywhere in the frame.