looked at the timing directions again in a service manual. looking at the diagram of the ignition, their directions for setting up a bulb or test box won't work. the current will just go from the red wire through the coil to the blue wire, so - opening the points looks like it can't really make the light go on and off like I thought it would; based on the diagram of the wiring they included in the manual.
correct me if I'm wrong, but looking at the diagram - you want to put the positive from the test bulb to the blue wire, and ground the negative of the battery to the case to test the points timing. This would run the circuit, through the coil, through the points, to ground.
I guess I'll try it tomorrow and see what happens.