Just a quick note since you seem more than motivated to learn on your own.
in reply to Help me understand hashes
Try using either Data::Dumper or Dumpvalue to visualize your data structures. Once you see what is going on under the hood you can better construct ways to access it for your specific needs. Then read perldsc until it makes sense.
Both of the above modules are core so there is nothing to download, and they are simple to use.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." -Galileo