Alan Storm's tutorial and official Magento (I am interested in v1.9, not v2.0) tutorials on this look very difficult and obscure to me. Considering I have actually learned and went through Symfony, Moodle, Wordpress tutorials without any problems (I am an experienced programmer), I am probably learning Magento the wrong way, because it's terribly difficult to digest. What is some of the advice on how to learn Layouts and Blocks of Magento, the right way?
Everything from Alan Storm is probably the best technical writing around Magento 1 that you can get.
Did you read his "No Frills Magento Layout" book or just blog posts? The book is covering exactly that topic (layout/blocks/templates), while the blog posts are more vertical (i.e. covering one single aspect in high technical detail) and not so much "getting started" material.
In general, I found books to be helpful at the beginning. You can find a curated list of Magento resources, including books, at https://github.com/aleron75/mageres