yes, it's lisp, so you can do anything with shortcut function/macros, but what matters IMHO is traditional style of doing things.
i'm using UCW for more-or-less usual applications, and find it's not optimal for them either -- it's too hard to figure out how to do stuff, it's bloated, buggy and fragile.
maybe it's "optimal" for some other sort of applications, but i'm yet to see them.
i believe the problem is CLOS. it's tempting to do stuff in "extensible way", but it appears it gets extensible mostly in the way no one needs, and it same time it introduces huge complexity overhead and confusion. arcane method precendence rules instead of function call flow, object slots acting like global variables instead of function parameters. CLOS is evil.
I don't use the 'UCW-AJAX' component library, which i agree is 'bloated, buggy and fragile'. OTOH, The core of UCW (the dispatcher/action mechanism) is very lean, quite stable, and has a comprehensive test suite that ensures what bugs there are don't affect me. It is this core i use in LoL.
But, if you think CLOS is evil and there is something arcane about the precendence rules, you're a lost cause anyway. "object slots acting like global variables instead of function parameters" ... what does that even mean? :P
My last example uses absolutely no CLOS explicitly once the core language is defined, and is identical in almost every way to the arc version. It is through the miracle of CLOS and the MOP that i can so easily change the functionality of something like UCW, in about 5 minutes, to create a PLT-style webserver.
You may find CLOS confusing, but when writing massive lisp applications with constantly changing requirements on teams of 50+ programmers, i've found having an object system that is malliable enough to take the application anywhere, yet that is based on a few simple principles that anybody who has read the MOP understands, is something i would not trade for anything.
Our experiences obviously differ significantly. I never had any major difficulties figuring out UCW and CLOS... have you read Keene, AMOP or any other books that cover OO design in lisp? Maybe they'll help you 'figure out how to do stuff'. AMOP changed the way i view software design... i really recommend it.
Otherwise, have you considered PLT or even (gasp) arc? If you find CLOS confusing, you may be better off going with a simpler approach. If you don't need the component architecture, and you don't like CLOS, why would you use UCW in the first place?