Thanks to all who responded. There was a lot of excellent
advice in all the replies, and I'm feeling MUCH better about this project. Just FYI, I work for an excellent manager who does listen to me when I say I can't get something done by a certain deadline. I had to say that very thing when this project was first given to me (and after banging my head against the wall for a week or so after trying to decipher the code). He immediately adjusted the deadlines on my other concurrent projects to give me some breathing room. Still a tough project, but I feel confident I can get into the Perl groove... (okay, so I'll probably post a lot of questions over the next couple of months ;-) ).