I installed 1.4RC1 by reading the instructions on the installation page carefully. I had one bad install because I forgot to copy over the kernel after compiling it (!!!), and couldn't figure out what was wrong. The second install went fine, I think I worked from LiveCD and a stage 3 tarball that time because I was impatient.
My linux/unix experience before gentoo was just red hat 7.0, which I hated and never used, so I consider myself a rank beginner (see above for embarassing newbie story). I think the installation instructions are actually very clear. I disagree that the instructions are incomplete, misleading and written to deliberately confuse (do you think the developers are sadists who enjoy causing unhappiness?). I had no trouble, apart from my forgetting to copy the kernel to /boot (which is in the instructions, but I was just so happy to have compiled my first kernel that I forgot).