I figured the first few would be really easy with a smooth learning curve as the questions get more difficult. Certainly, I didn't expect to spend at least two hours screwing up question 9; an ostensibly straightforward problem requiring you to convert a sequence into a list of sublists, grouped by consecutively equal elements (i.e. (1 4 4 8 1 9 1 1 1 2 2 3) -> ((1) (4 4) (8) (1) (9) (1 1 1) (2 2) (3))).
After trying to solve this one a few different ways, I rejected a recursive approach and simply looped through all the elements, doing dirty stuff:
(defun pack (list)
(let (a main-list)
(dolist (x list)
(if (and (not (null a)) (eq x (car (last a))))
(setf a (append a (list x)))
(if (null a)
(setf a (list x))
(progn (setf main-list (append main-list (list a)))
(setf a (list x))))))
(setf main-list (append main-list (list a)))
I had a quick peek at the solution provided on the site and didn't bother going through it except to note that it was indeed recursive (and not tail-recursive). Partly because some of the identifier names are in Portuguese and partly because it looks similar to the mess I had when I tried to do it recursively; I'm just not comfortable with how lists work yet - I was getting stuff like ((1 (1 (2 3)))) and ((1 (1 (2))) . 3) and all sorts of other crap.
I'm sure I could have done this quicker (and much longer and uglier) in Java, but not figuring it out properly in Lisp is making me feel a bit stupid. Wah.