Thanks for the workaround and the tips -- I tested it but now Bill is flying off to the mysterious destination "1"?! I only installed MySQL yesterday and got so engrossed I forgot to take the most elementary security precautions. Duh!
Update: tested gmax's code again incorporating small bugfix -- now works perfectly! Looks like I'll have to fork out for a copy of O'Reilly's Programming the Perl DBI. Cheers to all monks for their helpful suggestions.