I found TAL confusing at first too. It's not the most comprehensive thing in the world. TAL is OK but I've never really used it successfully in production, it never seems to have the right timbre for my uses. Maybe I just haven't found the right place for it yet.
I've also tried Orange Vocoder, it's interesting too and good for making pads... kills my eyes though.
Sort of related --- I see microkorgs for sale all the time on craigslist and I'm wondering if the vocoder is any good. I hear mixed reviews about the synth as a whole.